Tuesday, 9 October 2012


We hope that this disease never comes to your front door, as it is heartbreaking.

It is generally associated with German Shepherds and is basically a gradual paralysis of the back legs of the dog. Whilst there’s no obvious signs of any pain, to watch a majestic dog gradually lose the power of his or her legs, together with ultimately their dignity (although I have been accused of anthropomorphising on that score!!), has got to be one of the most soul-destroying experiences of a dog owners life.

Kiebher (or Keebsie as she was affectionately known) was my, at the time, 6 year old gsd. I got her from German Shepherd Rescue at the age of almost three. To say that she was a sweetheart would be the understatement of the year. She was adorable and full of life, and love for both people and other dogs. At the age of six I began to notice a ‘wobble’ in her back legs which, at first, I kind of ignored. As it became a bit more pronounced I thought that it might be a good idea to have her checked over by the vet. I thought that it might have something to do with hip dysplasia. So I took her along for a check up. Encouraging signs were that he primarily thought that it COULD be dysplasia and, because she was a young-ish and fit dog, a hip replacement operation would be a distinct possibility. However, he wanted to have her checked over by a specialist just to make sure that there wasn’t a neurological issue underlying things.

I took her the two hour drive up to Fife and left her for the day. The specialist was lovely but concluded that there WAS something else going on and recommended that I take her to the Glasgow vet school for an MRI scan and various other tests. To cut a long story short, this I did, and on returning to collect her was told that it was one of three things :
Disc 3 displacement, cancer of CDRM! I immediately asked where the lucky ace card was as this sounded horrendous. I hadn’t even heard of CDRM at the time but is even sounded awful.

So a process of elimination took place and CDRM it was. There is no known cause of the disease (although it has been mooted that it can be hereditary) and, what’s worse is, there is NO CURE. I was told that the best I could hope for was 9 – 12 months before she would be totally paralysed in the rear quarter and……………………..

The first thing that I noticed was that she stopped wagging her tail – not that she wasn’t still a happy pup, just she did not have any power in it. And the gradual decline set in. All I seemed to have to look forward to was her tripping up, being unable to lift her paw back into place, and  losing her toenails by ‘scuffing’ them along the ground, not to mention incontinence.  I vowed to try everything within my power to attempt to reverse this horrendous diagnosis.

I contacted a homeopath in the South of England (Patricia Bryans – thank you for everything) who went above and beyond the call of duty to help, providing weekly medicines, rescue remedies and charts and bags of encouragement.

 My vet (John Baillie – a huge thanks to you too) gave her acupuncture and took a personal interest in her well-being. He would even open up the surgery on a Sunday evening and give the acupuncture himself. He also arranged for her to go to the local hydrotherapy pool for exercises twice a week.

I bought a book on crystal healing, read all about this, and bought all of the relevant crystals to place beside her (the book, Crystal Healing for Animals by Martin J Scott & Gael Mariani, even has a case study of a GSD who suffered from this illness).

Finally, I bought a cart for her to go into and took her in a harness to the local racecourse, where I could ‘hook’ her up and she could run and play and get a bit of quality of life.

It was around 15 months after the initial diagnosis that I had to let her go, because she asked me to. I will never forget the look on her face as she passed away, it seemed to be a mixture of relief and despair.

I guess what I have tried to say here is that you should not need to give up hope, even when you think that you have exhausted all avenues. Love and affection too go a long, long way in helping.

Aye Keebsie, I still love you to this very day, although I haven’t seen you for 5 years and more……….

Isn’t she stunning?!.......

          And in her cart, able to play again………..


  1. Bless your heart. I am presently dealing with a 7 YO CDRM GSD myself. I just lost her older brother to cancer 6 weeks ago and her symptoms started almost the day after I had him put down. CDRM is certainly diabolical.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear that. I know what you are going through, and you have had a double 'hit'.
    All I can say is that you should cherish every day, at least there is no pain with CDRM.

    Hang on in there

  3. Hi
    My boy was diagnosed with CDRM 2 weeks ago, he is nearly 10 years old. Currently he is on 2 weeks total rest because when he went to the vets his mid back was painful. I am hoping to build him a chair in the next month so that it is ready for when he needs it.
    Dee & Jai-Jai