from the berner-l

BERNER-L Digest 1595

From: (MR BRUCE MACEWAN) Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 15:46:25, -0500 To: Subject: Seriously Ill Berner/Paralized

I haven't posted in a long time, and this post is not pleasant, but it is something I want to share with Berner people. Maybe someone has heard of this in another dog, (berner or non-berner) and can tell me of the outcome.

Last Monday at 3:00 AM I was woke up to the sound of my 2 1/2 year old female stumbling around my bedroom. I put on the light to find her lame in the right front leg. An emergency call to the vet was placed and we were told probally lymes and to bring her in first thing in the morning. By 5:00 AM I realized she was totally paralized from the neck down. She was shaking uncontrollably ( I think now from fear). We went to the local vet and then by 8:30 AM we were on our way to University of PA Vetenary Hospital. After 5 days in intensive care and many tests, an MRI revealed a fibro- cartelageous emboli or an infarction in the spinal column. In laymens terms it is similar to a stroke. However, a piece of cartelidge lodges in the spinal column and causes the sourrounding tissue to die. They tell me the prognosis is varied and some dogs do recover some use of their limbs but that it can take months, even years.

This is not from what the vet tells me a breed specific type of disorcder not is it heriditary.

We brought her home on Friday and are now providing round the clock nursing care. I have taken a leave from my job for the immediate future but cannot afford to do that for too long. You can imagine what our vet bills have been so far. We must turn her over every few hours and do physical therapy with her limbs. She has some movement on her left side, but very weak and cannot even hold herself in a position to lay on her belly. She is eating and drinking very well and passing her urine (all over ) and bowels fine. Her spirit is very low and we try to chear her and have carried her outside as it has been warm lately and she seems to like that. Otherwise she is a very sad dog, and our hearts are broken. She can wag her tail and does everytime you come over to her.

I did not think the human body could produce the volume of tears we have shed these last days. We do not know what to do other than take one day at a time. Perhaps we will have to make a difficult choice but we want to give her a chance to recover. It is just proving to be more difficult than we imagined. She is eight pounds and I have a herniated disk in both my neck and back and I am in constant pain from moving her.

Sorry for such a depressing post. Please keep our Else in your prayers.

Diane MacEwan


BERNER-L Digest 1596

From: "Melissa Zebley, DVM" ( To:, Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 22:10:25 +0000 Subject: Re: Seriously Ill Berner/Paralized

. After 5 days in intensive care and many tests, an MRI revealed a fibro- cartelageous emboli or an infarction in the spinal column. In laymens terms it is similar to a stroke. However, a piece of cartelidge lodges in the spinal column and causes the sourrounding tissue to die. They tell me the prognosis is varied and some dogs do recover some use of their limbs but that it can take months, even years.

Diane, I have only seen this once before. The dog I saw came in paralyzed in the rear only. At first we thought it came on suddenly, but after talking more with the owner and his wife, we determined that the dog had been getting progressively weaker. I referred him to a specialist for further diagnostics and possibly surgery - we weren't sure if it was an FCE or a ruptured disc. Dr. Moss did a CAT scan and diagnosed it as the FCE. The dog was treated on high dose steroids (I think, but am not sure) and kept hospitalized at the clinic for a couple weeks. Last I heard, he was nearly fully recovered and doing great. It did take several months, and quite a bit of money! Good luck. Melissa Melissa and Aylen and Tyra (and Sophie, too) Granite Falls, NC USA


BERNER-L Digest 1597

From: Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 23:22:35 EST To:,, Subject: Re: Seriously Ill Berner/Paralized


We also saw a dog presented to us with these same symptoms.Dog became paralyzed in the rear. We also referred this dog to UNC I believe and I loaned her my K9 Cart that I had and this dog (a golden x) was as good as new in a few months. A slight limp when we see her now 2 years later.

Sherry Von Engel Von Engel BMD'S Gloucester. Va. 23061


BERNER-L Digest 1618

From: (MR BRUCE MACEWAN) Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 09:43:42, -0500 To: cc: Subject: Else Update

We are still hanging in there. Else has had two accupuncture treatments so far. Don't see any results yet, but will continue with treatments twice a week. Also she is on several vitamins and holistic remedies.

We went for our first swimming therapy session yesterday at a horse farm with a heated indoor pool for excersizing the horses. She is afraid of the water and cannot swim, but they had her completely secured with ropes and life vests and after several failed attemps changed the vest arangement and were a little more sucessful. She was paddling with the left legs and kept tipping over. She did start to use the right hind leg and was kicking it a fair amount. The right front leg is still totally paralized and without feeling. She was an exhausted dog and slept well on the two hour ride home. We will try to go twice a week to swim as it did force her to use her legs and will hopefully make her strong enough to stand, and walk.

I do get rather discouraged at times and even though we are seeing improvement, she is a long way from being able to survive in this condition. She is more able to squirm around and seems to always do that before she goes to the bathroom, making a mess. We do several wash loads of towels and blankets a day. She is getting harder and harder to move for me (she is about 80 lbs), and carrying her in and out of the vets, etc is very difficult as she squirms. I will soon need to put up an x-pen in my family room to contain her. She doesn't move more than a few feet, but enough to be a problem. Of course we want to encourage her to try so it's tough.

My husband continues to do night duty, waking every three hours to turn her over and that is a real help to me.

I really appreciate all the good wishes and prayers, it helps alot.

Diane, Else and Bjorn,(who is feeling alittle neglected these days)


BERNER-L Digest 1681

From: (MR BRUCE MACEWAN) Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 19:26:48, -0500 To: Subject: Else's Starting to Walk!

We have made a great amount of progress in the last week or so.

On Saturday at Else's swimming therapy, I was very pleased with the effort she put into the swimming. She was really kicking with her hind legs. When we were leaving, my husband put her down on the lawn area and walked over to the van (about 60 feet away) while I waited with her, hoping she would 'go' before we started home. I walked away from her towards my husband to tell him something, and turned back to look at Else and then she started walking towards me. She walked (somewhat staggeringly) about 7 or 8 steps and sat down, then got up and walked about 5 more steps. She had moved about 15 feet from where I left her. I was so exicted I almost cried. Thinking she was being left behind was a great motivation apparently.

We practiced in the yard a little more after comming home, and on Sunday we took her to the park and while my husband walked Bjorn, I stayed behind with Else. Motivation again, to follow him, worked well and she walked about 75 feet in all, in 5 or 6 steps at a time, sitting between. She does stagger quite a bit and is wobbley, seems to vear off to her left side, but she is WALKING!

My husband took her for swimming therapy again today and she did very well again. We bought a carpet remenant and he is putting in over our tile floor in the kitchen and hall so she can get to the backdoor and frontdoor without walking on the tile. It won't look very good but who cares. It will be temporary until she is walking much better. Must be careful now that she doesn't hurt herself when trying to walk.

I am so happy my feet haven't touched the floor in three days!

Thanks for listening. Please keep Else in your prayers, it's working.

Diane MacEwan, Else and Bjorn

(Prodigy Distribution List) CC: YXLW12A


BERNER-L Digest 1694

From: (MR BRUCE MACEWAN) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 20:37:36, -0500 To: Subject: Else Update & Bjorn Brag

Spoke to Else's neurologist today at U of Penna Vet Hosp. and she was very excited about Else starting to walk. She said considering the amount of 'grey matter' damage, it was quite remarkable that she has improved so much in only two months. We are going to take Else up to see her on Saturday and she would like to film her for the students and other pet owners to see.

Would like to include a brag about Bjorn. Today I finally mailed my picture and paragraph for the BMDCA yearbook for Bjorn earning his versalitility title this year. With all the attention on Else, poor Bjorn has been getting less attention. He is a wonderful boy and has helped me greatly. He is very patient when Else gets most of the attention, and he comforts her and I when we need it. He earned his Championship last year on my birthday, his CD in only three shows about a year and a half ago, and his NDD at the nationaly specialty last year. I am very proud of him.

Before her paralisys, Else was doing quite well in obedience classes and we were also showing in breed with some sucess. The obedience comes in very handy now, knowing what 'stand' 'stay' and 'come' mean is very important. She was going to be my CDX dog, as she loved to retreive and Bjorn never liked to do that. Now we are thankful to have her come from eight feet away! She has always been a determined dog and we are greatful for that.

Thanks for listening, and thank you to all who have sent me notes of encouragement.

Diane, Else and Bjorn


BERNER-L Digest 1740

From: "Diane L MacEwan" ( To: "Berner List" ( Subject: Else Update Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 16:01:27 -0500

Else continues to improve.

Two weeks ago we took her to Univ of Penn Vet Hosp, and it was the first time the neurologist has seen her since November when she spent a week there. The doctor used the word 'amazing' atleast 10 times when examining Else. She could not get over her progress. She took some pictures of her and wants us to come back so she can film her. The video camera was not working. She had another neurologist look at her and he was also amazed. They said to keep doing what we are doing, and were emphatic that she will continue to improve in the next six months. They said that with the amount of progress she has had in such a short time (boy it seems long to us), she should improve much more. She will probably never run or hike, but she should be able to get around on her own. They were also pleased to see that her spirits are so high. We were thrilled.

Last week when I had both dogs outside, I decided to throw the dumbbell for Bjorn a little. Else became very excited and went over and picked it up and returned to me and sat directly in front of me with the dumbbell in her mouth. She used to love to retrieve. She was so proud of herself. Now we use the retrieve game as a motivator to get her to practice walking. She tries to run and I have to keep saying 'easy' because she cannot run she will fall down. I only throw it 8 - 10 feet and sometimes she stops when she gets to it and rests before coming back, but she loves it. Because her right front leg is still paralized it is hard for her to bend over, she uses her nose to position the dumbbell so that she can pick it up. Her tail is wagging the whole time.

My husband, Bruce, is building a ramp for outside the back door. There are two steps and Else cannot handle them. That should help a great deal. I look forward to not carrying her in and out. =20

We continue to go to swimming therapy twice a week and she gets acupuncture twice a week as well. She is also on a variety of holostic supplements. I will not change a thing as something is working, not the least of which is a lot of prayer.

Diane, and Else the wonder dog, and Bjorn her devoted brother


BERNER-L Digest 1815

From: "Diane MacEwan" ( To: "Berner List" ( Subject: Else Update Date: Sun, 21 Mar 1999 15:16:24 -0500

I wish we had been in Tuscon. Bjorn earned his Versitility Title this year and I would love to have been there to pick it up. But with Else, trips like that are difficult. =20

Her condition seems to be stable, and we don't see major improvement at this time, but she is probablly improving some, it's just harder to measure. She is getting around fairly well on three legs. It's harder for her than a normal three legged dog, because of the nerve damage in her right hind leg. But she does manage to walk pretty well. We took her to the park today and she went about 1/2 mile. Took her quite a long time, but Bruce bird watched with Else and I jogged a while with Bjorn.

We took her to the Specialty last weekend in Maryland, and during the lunch break I took her in the ring and told alittle of her story. I really wanted to show off her progress, but to people who don't know how bad she was, I guess she looked pretty bad. I didn't want people to look at her with pity, she has come so far and she is a very happy dog. ( not to mention very spoiled)

Diane, Else the wonder dog, and Bjorn


From: "Diane MacEwan" ( To: "Berner List" ( Subject: Else Update Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 11:04:48 -0500

It's been four and a half months now since Else had the clot in her spine. She has been at about the same level of functioning for a month or so. She hobbles around on three legs, and the right hind leg is not completely right. But she is a very happy dog. We try to keep her life as interesting as we can, taking her to the park every weekend, and playing with her in our yard each day. Her tail is in constant motion. She has adjusted very well to her disabilities. We think she learns to cope better all the time.=20

We took her camping last weekend and she was quite excited about that. Part of our camping mission was to visit another vet who specializes in acpuncture. Our local acupuncture vet wanted us to get a second opinion about the 'points' to use as he feels we are at a plateau. The new vet was not very optimistic and thought we may not have anymore recovery, but I will not give up. Even is she remains as she is, we can deal with that. But, if she is to have any chance at all, we must continue with the physical therapy. My husband has taken her today for her swimming. I have to work, so I did not go. (I am a programmer and the year 2000 is a nightmare for me)

We were advised that we could stop doing acupuncture twice a week and only go once a week now. It has become financially draining after so many months. I just hope we are doing the right thing. =20

Happy Easter and Passover,

Diane, Else and Bjorn


BERNER-L Digest 1827

From: "Diane MacEwan" To: "Berner List" Subject: Else The Wonder Dog Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 21:12:23 -0400

We built a ramp for Else out the backdoor a few months ago. In the beginning of the ramp we had to be very carefull and help her up and down. We still hold her harness when she goes down, but now she can run up the ramp without any help. It amazes me to think that less than three months ago we were carrying her and she could not even sit up or roll over. She was so very bad in the beginning, it's hard to believe it. She still looks very handicapped to most people, but to me she looks great!

Diane, Else and Bjorn


BERNER-L Digest 1924

From: "Bruce Macewan" To: "Berner List" Subject: Else Update Date: Sun, 6 Jun 1999 12:11:28 -0400

For those that haven't heard her story, Else had a clot in her spinal cord seven months ago that left her paralized from the neck down. She has been through extensive physical therapy and is recovering slowly. She can now walk on three legs with one of those three not completely normal. She is now three years old and a very happy dog.

For those that do know the story, we are very pleased that Else continues to lift her front right paw for a treat. She can lift to above her own elbow and will reach to touch my hand. She seems to enjoy it and of course the treat that follows. We practive fifteen repetitions three times a day. I make her hold it up and reach for my hand before giving her the treat. She does not use it to walk yet, only occasionally for balance.

We continue to take her swimming once a week, and get acpuncture once a week. The swimming we feel is still helping, and she has graduated to doing laps around the pool.(sher was swimming in place in the entry ramp, with ropes on either side of her). She does not use the front right leg in the pool, but we are hoping with the progress lifing her leg that she may start soon. Once in a while it seems as though she moves it a little. She isn't fond of the swim, but does get excited when she knows we are going and definitely wants to go. It's a long drive (2hours) and we are really getting sick of riding up there every Saturday. Hopefully when the water warms up, we can find a place to swim her in the bay perhaps. We live by the South Jersey shore, but most areas do not allow dogs. I really wish I had a pool in my yard. My brother does but he also lives two hours away.

My husand and I still marvel at how happy Else is always. She has the most postive spirit.

Diane, Else the Wonder Dog, and Big Bjorn


BERNER-L Digest 2037

From: Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 15:45:29 -0700 Subject: Bernie's progress To:

Thanks for all the messages of support. Knock on wood, Bernie did not get any worse today -- maybe even a touch better. He is not in any pain, and can walk (wobbly) and support his weight, although we are keeping him off tile or bare wood floors, which are still too slippery for his back legs right now. The injury occurred saturday, while at the park. We think he suddenly twisted or landed on his rear, injuring a spinal disk. The neurologic weaknesses in his back legs (the "drunken sailor" walk) began on saturday afternoon, getting progressively worse in the evening and on Sunday. Sunday we took him to the emergency room, and on Monday he saw his two vets: his orthopedic surgeon in the morning (Alan Schulman), who gave him Solu-Medrol and Dex and started a 10 day course of Prednazone. We saw his holistic vet (Priscilla Taylor of the Limehouse Clinic) in the afternoon, where he received acupuncture, electro-stimulation and various holistic medication. last night I also spoke with a neuro vet at UC Davis, although without seeing Bernie, he could not offer much.

Tomorrow, we are seeing another ortho surgeon (Dr. Olds) for a confirming opinion, and will go back for more acupuncture later in the week. In short, Dr. Schulman advised against the necessity of an MRI or Myliogram for several reasons: Bernie did not appear to be in any pain, his temp. was normal (ruling out infection), he had sensation in his legs, was not incontinent and could support his weight (though wobbly). His theory was that the trauma caused an embolistic event in the lower back, like a stroke. Prognosis varies, depending on the level of spinal cord compression, but many dogs have been known to make full recoveries (while others do not). Had Bernie been in pain, the vet's conclusion would have been in favor of the Mylio or MRI. Last night we agonized over whether to do a Myliogram or MRI today, despite the vet's rec. When Bernie looked a little better today, we decided to wait and see how he does for now. If he gets worse or does not improve, we'll do the more invasive MRI or Mylio procedures. He is on severe bedrest (and we have placed yoga mat trails throughout the house, so that he can get around without slipping.)

I'll keep you all informed. Thanks again for your support. If any of you knows of a good veterinary neurosurgeon in Los Angeles, please let me know (in the event he takes a turn for the worse and we want a neuro specialist opinion).



BERNER-L Digest 4002

From: "mary cumming heald" To: "Bernese Mountain Dog Mailing List" Subject: henry, paralyzed pup Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 22:18:52 -0700

dear berner owners, i am writing for your may remember earlier this summer i wrote about my puppy henry's paralysis resulting--as we came to find out--from fce (basically a stroke of the spinal cord)...henry's prognosis from the start was grim, but i had to try taking care of him to see if he might make a miraculous present, he still cannot use his hind legs and has no bowel or bladder control...he doesn't seem to be making much, if any, progress....i have been catheterizing him three to four times a day, doing physical therapy with his right leg, which had the best chance of a comeback, and walking him in his wheelchair a few times every day...he really enjoys the wheelchair and seems happy out and about in the neighborhood on his all of you berner owners can well understand, i LOVE this wonderful puppy so much and have just cried and cried and cried, all the while hoping against hope that he might at least recover the meantime, i am absolutely exhausted...i feel like i am living on the edge all the time and have finally realized that i cannot continue to do what i have been doing and raise three elementary age children and do all the other things i'm committed to in my life...SO my back is really against the wall.... do any of you know of anyone who has the time and energy to take care of a wonderful pup like henry who happens to be paralyzed and incontinent?...he is an absolute gem, so sweet and calm and beautiful...he's been a very laid back puppy all his life and has no troublesome habits...he wears a diaper when in the house, and that keeps him pretty clean and neat....i'm attaching a picture of him taken earlier this summer with his younger cousin rose (and my son) and can send one of him in his wheelchair.... henry's neurologist in athens mentioned that she'd heard of paralyzed animals participating in hospital visiting programs...have you heard of such programs? if so, do you know of anyone involved in them?

i am searching--desperately, yes--for a way for henry to have a life given his physical limitations....thanks so much for any help or advice you can offer. mary heald


BERNER-L Digest 4284

From: Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 09:24:03 -0800 Subject: Did Hugo move his paws in the pool? To: Bernese List

We had to postpone Hugo's second hydro-therapy session due to diarrhea and a possible infection. Today with the vet's blessing we returned to San Diego with high hopes. My friend Dawn was sure that he'd move his front paws this time because he has been moving them slightly, on command, when lying down this past week.

The therapist first used an electromagnetic impulse machine on him and we got the contraction reaction we had hoped for. But in the water he was like last time, just letting his legs hang down lifelessly. My heart sunk. I was completely in the pool this time helping and holding Hugo's head up when suddenly I hear a scream from behind me. Dawn was beside the pool with her back to the water, squatting to pick up the treats when she lost her balance. She tried to throw her weight forward but went up in the air and -- fully clothed -- flipped backwards and landed head first in the pool. I didn't see any of this, I turned to see her tennis shoes on her feet sticking out of the water like some cartoon. Surprisingly she didn't resurface immediately. It was that horrible moment, the moment that's often the subject of jokes or conjecture, where you have to choose between your dog and your friend. I confess, I hung onto Hugo, keeping his head out of water while the therapist grabbed Dawn by her legs. She came up smiling, thank goodness, and proceeded to stay in the pool with us, fully dressed, cheering Hugo on.

Maybe it was the shock of all this but for whatever reason Hugo started *kicking* his back legs. It was beautiful, you can imagine, a lovely swimming motion which he repeated for several little "laps" while the therapist held and moved him along. On his last lap he added the right front paw to the thrill of all of us. By now there were several other dog owners there as well as the wonderful person who had originally recommended this therapist, and a host of dogs all marveling at Hugo's first baby swimming steps.

Donna and Hugo, 8 yr old, 4/02 surgery for ruptured neck disc, recovered 95%, 12/02 second neck disc surgery, possible spinal stroke; Feb 1 setback, stopped moving legs; now working hard to come back