This is my first post on this forum, so apologies in advance if I run a little (OK, a lot) long.
We are the proud owners of Trent, a lovable, small basenji that will turn 2 in November. We fell completely in love with him on the ride home from the breeder and this love keeps growing every day.
A few weeks after we brought him home as a 10 ~ 12 week old puppy, we noticed that his front paws seemed very weak. They would angle in, and he would "knuckle" over on them all the time. This got progressively worse over time. Or vet initially suspected a "varus" bone deformity due to the angle of the paws and referred us to a local animal hospital.
The orthopaedic doctor at the hospital diagnosed our little Trent with "carpal laxity syndrome" (a relief at the time as his bones were normal) and prescribed several weeks of rest & relaxation: no hard surfaces, no rough play, minimal exercise. While it was difficult to keep our young Basenji puppy from bouncing off of the walls, he eventually improved as the doctor indicated he would.
His front legs were never what I would consider to be 100% normal, they seemed weak and he was always a bit clumsy, but he eventually was able to go on long walks with us and exercise and play like any normal dog would.
Over the past 2 months it seemed that his leg problems were returning, slowly but surely. Only this time the problems also started including the back legs, but just barely. We assumed that his carpal laxity had returned and went back to the same doctor (who we were very happy with after the initial issues).
This time the doctor immediately noticed something different, after only a few minutes of watching Trent walk around, he said he believed that the condition was neurological and referred us to another specialist at the hospital, who confirmed the initial findings.
Here is the diagnosis:
C1-C5 myelopathy, suspect congenital (such as SHM, hemivertebrae), storage disorder, meningitis, intervertebral disc disease, neoplasia, degenerative.
He also has a previously diagnosed "benign" heart murmur.
Additional summary of the written report:
- heart murmur
- previously diagnosed carpal laxity
- moderate ataxia of all 4 limbs
- mild quadriparesis (weak legs, all 4)
- absent conscious proprioreception on all 4 limbs (limited sense of feeling in the limbs)
What they're basically saying is that his brain can't get reliable signals to his limbs, so he has control & strength problems, and his limbs cant reliably send sensory information back to his brain, so he has a poor sense of where his legs are and what position they're in, leading to a very clumsy dog with weak legs.
The initial thoughts on why this is happening range from a defect in the spine near the neck, a growth such as a tumor in the same area (pressing on the spine), a swollen disc in his neck, or (the more scary ones): an inherited "storage disorder" which has a very grim outlook.
They've started the bloodwork and urine analysis, and we're scheduling a chest x-ray and MRI next. My wife and I are absolutely terrified of what the outlook is going to be for our little Trent. He has absolutely changed our lives and we can't imagine life without him. This is at the forefront of our minds right now, with the dramatic costs of the diagnosis and any potential treatments a long distant second… Trent is a member of the family right now and we'll do whatever we can to make him better.
That's where we are at right now. I read the story on how this forum got started by Alex and Vanessa (cerebral ataxia is a word that I've become very familiar with today) and you have no idea how close to home their story is hitting right now.
If anyone else out there has experienced anything like this with their Basenji (or any other breed), we would greatly appreciate any thoughts or advice that you can share.
I'll post more updates (much shorter ones!) and some pictures of our little guy in the coming days.