July began with a bust. Sasha’s boots arrived on July 1 but they weren’t a good fit. Size wise they were fine but they didn’t conform properly to the anatomy of her foot and  kept coming off. I was heartbroken because I’d literally run out of options. In a previous post I wrote that in March her neurosurgeon felt she had Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) and did a  DNA Marker test. The test gets sent to a lab at the University of Missouri whose research doctors developed it in conjunction with doctors from MIT/Harvard. The results indicated Sasha didn’t have it. The results take a few weeks to come back so in the interim I joined an online Degenerative Myelopathy Support Group. Even when I told the group weeks later that Sasha did not have DM, they encouraged me to stay because we still share a common denominator ~ knuckling. I tried the boots all weekend and by Sunday, July 3, was distraught. That night I typed a plea for assistance/suggestions in the DM Support Group. I distinctly remember for I was so upset I had to go back and edit the post for a ton of typos. The response I received was overwhelming. Many of the brands that worked for others I’d  already tried. Then someone suggested “Rufi’s Boot”. I asked if that was the  name of the website because I wanted to look at it. Instead, I heard the most beautiful story of a dog mom who went the extra mile for her special boy, Rufus. His mom took a pair of better quality commercial dog boots to a shoemaker who reinforced the soles and toes. He also added a cuff wrap that went around the leg just above the hock and then added  connecter rings to both the front of the boot and to the wrap. Together the rings held a strap which could be adjusted if needed. The purpose of the “knuckling” strap was to keep the dogs foot in normal alignment and prevent knuckling.  Sadly a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy eventually progresses to a wheelchair then total loss of mobility. The long term prognosis is poor as there is no cure or current treatment for DM.

Rufus, who’s mothers innovative thinking has helped so many others with the “Rufi Boot”.rufus

Rufus and his boots ~ Gone but not forgotten

What a brilliant idea!!! Some of the group members were seamstresses and crafts people so made their own version of the Rufi Boot. I am not a crafty person at all so that wasn’t an option. After deciding I wanted  Ruffi’s Boot for Sasha I suddenly realized were no shoemakers anywhere near us at all. One time my husband’s work boots needed a repair and  I travelled 150 miles round trip to a shoemaker. In hindsight it would probably been more prudent to buy a new pair. Then it happened! For once the planets were aligned in my favor because I noticed an article in the local online newspaper ( a paper I don’t read on a regular basis) about a shoemaker from 55 miles away who would be in my area on Saturday mornings at the local Farmer’s Market. His name is Lucas Argrew, owner of Beyond Shoe Repair in Auburn. I found his website, emailed several pictures of the Ruffi Boot, asked if they were something he could do and  he responded yes! I made plans to meet him the following Saturday, July 9, with Sasha and my collection of dog boots in tow.

The morning of July 5 we left  bright and early (6am) to see Sasha’s internist, Dr. Noble, in Portland. No treatments, just a progress exam and lab tests. Dr. Sarah Noble is one of Sasha’s all time favorite people, her BFF. She relaxes immediately and you can see in her face how happy she is the second Dr. Noble enters the room. Animals are such sentient beings. After we arrived Sasha walked about the waiting room until it was her turn. She’s never been frightened or nervous while at any veterinary appointment, even after going blind on April 7. This visit was particularly emotional for me as for several days leading up to it  I told my family that I thought Sasha was “seeing” things that were distant.When a dog is being treated with the Plechner Protocol for SARDS (Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome) the first vision to return is the distant vision.  My family didn’t agree with me and although they didn’t say it, I believe they thought it was wishful thinking on my part. I’ve been sleeping on the sofa downstairs in the great room ever since the beginning of the year and continued because of Sasha’s stem cell therapy and then her sudden  blindness. Therefore I spend the most 1:1 time with her and have learned to detect even her most subtle nuances. The night before this visit, July 4, I turned on the kitchen overhead light and happened to see Sasha turn her head and focus on the light. She was looking directly at it on the ceiling. I inherently KNEW she saw it. When we entered the exam room we met first with Tiffany, Dr. Noble’s fabulous tech. I told Tiffany I felt Sasha was able to see distant and explained about the kitchen ceiling light. She took Sasha  to the back area to have her labs drawn. A short time later Dr. Noble entered the room with a big smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. I remember thinking ,“Wow she must be happy to see us”. Then she dropped the bomb ~ Sasha’s pupils were reacting to light!!  Sasha had what is known as PRLs (pupils reacting to light) which occurs when a bright light is shined in the eye, causing the pupils to constrict. Apparently she caught up with Sasha in the back hall and examined her eyes with the light. She admitted she was shocked to see her pupils react but was as excited as we were. I began crying and we hugged. Then Tiffany entered the room and said she never had the chance to tell Dr Noble that I thought Sasha was seeing. Dr. Noble had been checking Sasha’s  eyes during each visit but this was the first time there was a reaction ~ empirical proof that her retinal tissue was rejuvenating. She also noticed that Sasha’s pupils were beginning to return to a more normal size. During the month of complete blindness, Sasha’s pupils became large and almost filled her eyes, somewhat resembling a character you see in a horror movie. Just huge black eyes. I’d also noticed at home that she appeared at times to be focusing on things across the yard. Again, my family thought I was reading into it which in all honesty is a plausible conclusion. Often we want something so badly that we misinterpret things. If I understand it correctly, the distance vision returns first followed by the near vision. As I explained to my family, once the far vision begins to return, it comes in spurts. I compared it to a light switch. It’s not as if the switch is turned on and voila! Distance vision has returned but rather, the switch turns off and on then one day it stays on.

Sasha ~ July 2
Sasha ~ July 2
Sasha ~ July 5
Sasha ~ July 5

Being realistic, today’s discovery is a baby step but nonetheless it’s progress. I don’t know when Sasha will have complete restoration of vision. Perhaps she may not regain 100% and perhaps she will. What I do know however is that Dr. Plechner’s theory is accurate and valid; I have a most loved German Shepherd that is living proof. 

Being told to go home and learn to live with a blind dog didn’t “feel right” to me and since my mantra is “Can’t is a fellow that never tried” I couldn’t accept it. Not because I didn’t want the burden of a blind dog but rather, I wouldn’t have accepted that diagnosis for a human family member so why would I for Sasha? If there was a chance to regain either full or partial vision I wanted her to have it. She’s had so many atypical medical issues yet always landed on her feet. After the FCE in 2011, I accepted that she wouldn’t reach the last Schutzhund level or scale a 6′ fence ~ who cares? But I wanted to be able to watch her face as her eyes followed a tossed snowball or a chirping band of tree hopping squirrels. And if there were no options, I would have accepted that too; but I owed it to her to explore. So yes, today I am excited, blessed, thrilled and confident. Tomorrow something may crop up in her care that changes these feelings but I know that whatever obstacles she encounters will be stepping-stones. I believe Sasha knows how very loved she is.

What a wonderful day…Can’t wait to see what the future brings. In any event, one step at a time and we love Sasha no matter what.

I’m not a savvy blogger  so unsure of menus, icons etc. Click to see Sasha’s You Tube channel which chronicles her journey from onset until present day.

💜Next up -Boots💜

5 thoughts on “July Begins With Boots & A Bang …

  1. Just found your blog and it really hit home. We lost our boy to DM last year. Bet Rufus is romping at the bridge knowing his moms out of the box thinking helped so many other dogs. I know how tough the boot issue was for us. I thought it might be because of the GSDs foot structure.

    Liked by 2 people

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