Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Little time to post here recently, as I have been too occupied with Velvet.

A couple of weeks ago I let her out first thing in the morning, as usual, and was greeted by a salivating, staggering twitching wreck.   She had been her usual lively self the night before, and I had no idea what had happened.  Had she somehow eaten poison?   I am very careful about poisons.  

I have been in dogs a long time, and what crossed my mind was that this looked like the later stages of distemper....but that seemed impossible.  She is of course immunised.

The vet thought different.   He did complete bloodwork, and no kidney or liver problems showed up - indeed, no problems at all.   Any poison would have affected the result.   Normal temperature, so not an infection.   He did more tests, and concluded that it was probably granulomatous meningoencephalitis.  It normally attacked toy bitches of about her age (4).  It comes on suddenly.   The cause is unknown.   He said that the definitive test was to examine spinal fluid, but suggested that since we had excluded all the other possibilities, we should just go straight to treatment.  She had a 50/50 chance of survival.

The treatment was massive doses of corticosteroid.   It was difficult to get anything into her.   She did not know me at all.   I had to syringe water into her, and push food down her throat.  This really scared her.  Most things scared her.
Velvet - note the eye ulcer

And the steroids began to work.   The twitching and staggering eased away.  She could walk.  She still wouldn`t eat - until I used a liquid high nutrition feed for invalid animals.  I was syringing it in, and she tried to eat the syringe - and ate the rest of the food by herself.

After that the recovery was gradual and complicated by eye ulcers aggravated by the large steroid doses.  She began to recognise me, and knew her name.  The tail stayed down and she was still nervous, but a good appetite had developed, and she put on all the weight she had lost.

Yesterday she went to the vet again, and was pronounced OK.  A huge relief.  I think the vet was quite surprised - but Papillons are tough little beasts.

I took her home and let her out to relieve herself - and bad-tempered old Camilla attacked her.   She ran off into the tangle of shrubs and trees that used to be a rockery, and although I went in after her, she ran from me too.   There followed hours of searching, and general despair.   She knows her name, but will not come when called - in fact I am just not sure how much intelligence remains after the illness.

At midnight, after searching garden and fields till it got dark, I let the last 3 girls out, before going to bed....and suddenly I was looking at 4 girls.   Velvet had come back.   She must have holed up somewhere, waiting till it was safe, as she thought.   Vast relief.

I am now waiting to see how much of her personality comes back.   I think it is going to be a slow process.

Awww poor velvet, but I'm glad she's recovering ok. I've been wondering about her.
I`m just wondering how much of her personality will come back, or whether there is permanent brain damage. I`ve no experience of this kind of thing. It was all very scary indeed
I can imagine, it's just horrible when they're sick and encephalitis is extreme to say the least! Got everything crossed that she recovers fully x
What a scary experience -- I'm glad she's feeling better now and hope she recovers!
I am so sorry that you have had such a difficult time. I expect that if this happened to one of my dogs, a stay in the animal ICU at the vet would be required.I hope that Velvet continues to recover.
Thank you.

I`m trying to find people who have had experience of this disease, and can tell me if it causes permanent personality changes.
Poor Velvet and poor you for being scared to death! I would have been, too. I sure hope she's doing better. Lovey (French Bulldog) has had an ulcer that I've been treating for a month, it's doing better, healing, but still have to treat it with an eye ointment twice a day.
Oh Elizabeth, my heart goes out to you. It is all too easy to imagine myself in your shoes. There is a yahoo group called NewGMEDogs for owners of dogs with GME. Perhaps you can find answers there?

No experience with this myself - a horse who was boarded with ours years ago developed encephalitis but I know that's a different virus. But I do understand how difficult and scary this has been. I'm so sorry! Am sending good thoughts.
Thank you. all of you. for your support. I will be trying the Yahoo group.

So far she is still improving
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