Maxwell Chronicles (Part II)

Maxwell living his very best life ever

Living with a Maxwell here at the adorable house of misfits has been a whirlwind of emotions and overall trial and error on things to best help Maxwell thrive. After hearing from various veterinary professionals and pet parents alike on what Maxwell’s official diagnosis was I finally decided to end the debate and scheduled Maxwell to see the neurology department at Akron (Ohio) MedVet.

Being someone in the veterinary field who handles curbside appointments daily I can tell you that it was a very humbling experience and reminded me to be patient and compassionate and reminded myself that despite not being allowed to go inside with Maxwell the staff, technicians and doctor’s treated him with kindness, compassion and respect (and they absolutely did! I cannot thank Akron MedVet enough!).

On the “other side” of the appointment for a change; Curbside appointments

The neurologist stated that (among other things) Maxwell has multiple limb deformities along with kyphosis of the thoracic limb region with potential hemivertebra but she reminded me that with the “right family ANY pet can thrive!” and she is absolutely right.

I am unsure why I so badly wanted an official title for what was up with Maxwell, maybe it was because I felt if “it” had a name then I would know better what to expect maybe — but much with life there is no true preparation and we just all have to “roll with the tide” whatever or where ever that may take us!

Examples of the different “types” of back issues dogs can experience

  • Kyphosis is a type of spinal deformity similar to scoliosis the difference is that scoliosis is a lateral (side to side) curvature of the spine whereas kyphosis is a posterior (up and down) curvature of the spine, specifically in the upper, or cervical, portion of the spine.
  • This curvature can cause nerve damage, which is the reason behind many, if not all, of the symptoms presented. 

  • In older dogs, the condition can be caused by trauma (like a spinal fracture) or wear-and-tear on the spine (which could lead to arthritis or osteoporosis). 
  • In younger dogs (less than 1 year old), the condition is most likely congenital, meaning it was inherited by the individual at birth, as was the case for Olivia, so this is the type of kyphosis of focus throughout this website. 
  • If you suspect your dog’s kyphosis was inherited, it is important to get in contact with his/her breeder (if possible) to let them know. They will want to make sure to not keep breeding your dog’s biological mother/father so as to stop these defective genes from passing on to any more offspring

Some of the signs/symptoms MAY include:

  • Atrophy (loss of muscle tone in affected areas)
  • Loss of sensation
  • Incontinence (loss of control over bladder/bowel )
  • pain
  • wobbliness
  • weakness in the back legs
  • walking differently
  • signs of muscle wastage in the back legs
  • an abnormally shaped back

Regions of the spine
Example of hemivertebra (left) and a normal vertebra (right)
09/2021 XRady of Maxwells Spine (lateral view)

Is the future scary? Absolutely it is! But I would feel the future as scary regardless if Maxwell was in our life or not! I am unsure what the future holds for Maxwell but I know one thing for sure: He is going to live a safe, happy & loving life with myself and the rest of the adorable house of misfits!

Grief & Maxwell

Grief. It has a funny way of changing a person from the inside out leaving them feeling like a hollow shell of a human being and craving for your old life back — your old “soul mate” — your beloved pet that you lost. I tell people that grief is a club that no one ever wants to join but once you have you are changed forever… the dynamics of your mind have been forever altered and your emotions run on a constant spectrum of sorrow to a semi-managed “autopilot” where you simply do not think you just ARE in hopes that you can manage the day taking everything in stride by the minute.

My entry into this ominous club was January 25, 2021 at 8:53am. My memories of that day are a chaotic whirlwind of emotions but the main point I remember forever is holding my sweet Maggie Mae and kissing her uncontrollably while I reminded her how much I loved her and thanked her for so many wonderful years. The week that followed that day felt like a blur as if I were simply going through the motions in hopes of a shred of normalcy…. it was simple all that I wanted was my Maggie Mae but unfortunately and sadly it was not that simple.

Not a minute, not a second of the day goes by that I do not miss her horribly and sorely as she truly was my “soulmate” and “heart dog” , she inspired me to constantly work to be a better person… a better friend, daughter, sister, wife. A better, more improved me all around. After Maggie Mae I vowed that I would not… I could not get another dog as my heart could not handle it! I felt that for as long as I mourned sweet Maggie Mae that it would be unfair to adopt a new dog if I could not devote the same level of love and devotion that I had given to Maggie all of those amazing years.

For as much as I worked to convince myself I would never be ready for another dog the universe apparently had other plans for me and in entered Maxwell.

Now, I am not a highly spiritual person — I do believe there is a “higher power” (though I am not entirely certain what that higher power is), yet I wear the Saint Jude & Saint Francis medal’s around my neck without fail (what can I say? I am simply an enigma!) and I believe that the universe (and most likely Maggie Mae herself!) played active roles in bringing Maxwell into my world.

It did not take long to see this little boy was special. He needed someone…anyone to give him a chance and to be patient with him (after all he was learning how to navigate his world without the use of his back legs, and eventually will learn to adapt to a wheelchair/scooter) as well as manually express his bladder to help him urinate properly. Without second thought I agreed to take him home (still not entirely sure what I was getting myself into!) and quickly realized that the world needed me to take Maxwell home and it was evident by the “M” on his chest (which was before we officially named him Maxwell! I told people it was Maggie’s “stamp of approval”) and quickly found out through some investigative work that Maxwell as born on the same exact day Maggie Mae passed away! I am unsure if this is a “thing” but my heart takes comfort in knowing that Maxwell and Maggie could have easily crossed paths as Maggie was exiting and Maxwell was entering.

As time carried on I noticed something remarkable happening — though my heart hurt and I was still constantly mourning Ms. Maggie Mae, I found Maxwell to be very “good” for me! He is a clown like, spunky little dude who does NOT let the fact his back legs malfunction even phase him nor slow him down! He plays and barks and chews just like any other normal puppy does! I remind him daily that he is not Maggie and that is ALRIGHT. He is Maxwell. He is his own being and I will love and care for him for the remainder of his days.

Somewhere in my grief addled brain I tell myself that Maggie sent me Maxwell to soothe the suffering I feel deep within my soul, to help keep my compassionate heart occupied (and to give me something ELSE to worry about! I am the typical “mother hen” always worried about someone and always attempting to feed them!).

Maxwell no doubt has many obstacles ahead of him as far as his mobility goes. And that is alright. Everything that we do we will take in stride and figure it out along the way. Maxwell does not care that I am not perfect or well versed in his “special-ability” he just cares that I love him and give him affection (and the occasional snackie!) and is just thankful that someone took a chance on him and did not immediately write him off as a “suffering” being that needed to be met with euthanasia (because that is the farthest from the truth possible!). He just needed ONE person to give him a shot. Growing up I was reminded that you “cannot save them all” and though that may be true I can change the life of that ONE pet I rescued. That is all that it takes: one person to give them a shot.

Max’s radiograph interpretation of his spine/back & ribs.
Maxwell showing off his “badge” that sits proudly on his chest!