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!

Pet Insurance & CH Pets

We have received lots of messages pertaining to cerebellar hypoplasia pets & pet insurance and unfortunately we have not been able to find a pet insurance that would cover “CH” pets! Below is listed a chart courtesy of DVM360 that shows the top pet insurance companies and breaks down the “dirty details” of each insurance company.

Upon speaking to one of the pet insurance companies “Figo Pet Insurance” I kindly asked them to specify their “pre-existing policy” and how this pertains to cerebellar hypoplasia pets.

“Cerebellar hypoplasia will be considered a pre-existing condition even though the pet is born with it unless it happens to not show signs or symptoms until after the pet has a policy. The earliest you can insure a pet is 8 weeks old and we have a 14 day waiting period for illnesses. In order for the cerebellar hypoplasia to be covered, there would need to not be any signs or symptoms until the pet was at least 10 weeks old…”

I then asked Figo Pet insurance about “accidents or illnesses” [Figo Pet Insurance states that you can still get pet insurance for a CH pet BUT any illnesses/injuries that could be related to CH would NOT be covered by pet insurance] so I asked them to clarify that.

“We base all coverage off of the medical records your veterinarian provides. With CH the coverage will heavily depend on if your veterinarian feels the accident or illness is related to the CH. For example, if your vet states “CH caused pet to fall over and break tooth” it would be considered due to a pre-existing condition. If your vet states that there is a broken tooth and does not consider it due to the pre-existing CH then it could be covered
We could also offer coverage for other accidents or illnesses that your vet deems unrelated to the CH like urinary issues, allergies, diabetes, or cancers…”

So the jury is still out on pet insurance! In our opinion we feel that the pet insurance companies will try to connect any injury/illness to CH (thus the pet insurance not covering the bill for!) so personally we feel it is not worth having your CH baby on pet insurance but always stress to do your homework! If you are looking into insurance for your CH pet contact them directly and ask questions pertaining strictly to cerebellar hypoplasia!

We recommend looking into Care Credit ( which is sort of like a credit card that you can only use at the veterinarian’s office (or you can personally use it also! I recently used my care credit at the dentist office!)

HandiPet Alliance

          We’ve all heard the stories – – the tales from handipet parents sympathizing to one another in a Facebook group, the group chat including foster families and volunteers or even veterinary staff … 



             We have *all* heard the saying, “they can be ‘pet friendly’ BUT are they ‘handipet friendly’?”



         In the new year we decided to tweak some of our regular resolutions of education and awareness to bring something that is making the amazing handipet tri-pawd (get it?! tri-pawd!? Please forgive my “dad joke”!) the ultimate trifecta: unity!




          So we are launching the “HandiPet Alliance” – just a group of like-minded “allies” that can be anyONE that supports handipet awareness and compassion can apply! 

What Happens When Applying?


You will receive an e-mail confirming your submission & get our “alliance” logo to proudly display on your website/social media — wherever! 


If you are a veterinarian/organization you will be added to our “misfit map” and directory  (this is does not apply if you are NOT an organization) to alert others that you are misfit friendly! 

This “logo” will let the world know that you stand united with handipet advocacy and education and help network and unite pet parents worldwide! 


Let’s normalize the misfits!

Homemade Treat Recipe

Below are easy ways to make “snacks” out of your pet’s regular diet! Utilize these tips/tricks to make your own easy snacks using your pets normal pet food!


  • All homemade treats need to be stored in a refrigerator no longer than five to seven days to maintain their freshness & prevent spoilage.
  • Homemade treats should NOT exceed 5% of your pet’s total daily intake, as baking the treats does alter the nutritional characteristics of the food.


Snack Triangles (Canned Food)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spread 1/2 can of your pet’s favorite canned (or prescription canned) food onto a sheet of waxed paper
  • Cut the flattened food into triangles, each 1/2 inch thick
  • Place the triangles on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
  • Flip the triangles, and bake for another 15 minutes
  • Let treats cool completely before serving to your cat!

Gravy (Canned Food)

  • Crumble 1/2 can of your pet’s favorite canned (or prescription canned) food into a measuring cup
  • Add 1/3 cup of water to the measuring cup
  • Stir ingredients until the mixture is combined to the consistency of gravy

Snack Cookies (Kibble)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Using a blender, grind 2 cups of your pet’s dry food (or prescription dry food) into a fine powder
  • Transfer kibble powder to a bowl, and slowly add water to form a dough consistency
  • Shape into cookies and place onto a cookie sheet
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until crispy
  • Let treats cool completely before serving to your cat!

Crunching the Numbers

The Humane Society of the United States has statistics pertaining to animals surrendered or in shelters and they are alarming and concerning:

  • Estimated number of brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US: 3,500
  • Estimated number of rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America: 10,000
  • Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year: 6-8 million (down from 13 million in 1973)
  • Of the 3 million cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year, approximately 2.4 million (80%) are healthy and treatable and could have been adopted into new homes
  • Percentage of purebred dogs in shelters: 25%
  • Number cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year: 4 million
  • Percentage of cats euthanized in shelters: 70%
  • Percentage of total shelter intake comprised of cats: Approximately 50% (but in some regions 2/3 of shelter population is cats)

Currently there are no statistics that reflect specifically to specially-abled animals in a shelter environment and do you know why? Because most specially-abled animals are comprised of the “euthanized” statistics you are seeing above.

What is even more alarming is the statistic reflecting, “of the three million cats & dogs euthanized in shelters each year, approximately 2.4 million (80%) are healthy & treatable and could have been adopted into new homes…” this means that these animals are being euthanized in shelters and rescues annually due to the fact that the shelter ran out of housing space (over crowding/over population) or maybe the animal had a treatment plan that was not “fiscally responsible” (such as Bart’s eye enucleation, which is a tale for another day) or they were surrendered back to the shelter and were simply “given up on”.

May 03, 2021 – Specially-Abled Awareness Day

If you would have approached me when I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school and trekking to college and informed me that in the year 2021 I would have a husband, a house, a career and have a small “herd” of specially-abled animals I probably would have scoffed and laughed at those insane statements (mainly the part where I got married!) but I would have never imagined the twists and turns that life would have gifted me but most of all I never would have imagined being “mom” to a rag-tag band of adorable “misfit toys” but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I was unprepared for each of my specially-abled babies here but by serendipitous luck they all crashed into my world in their own amazing and unique way where initially I was afraid, worried that I would not be able to properly care for these “special” pets (as the word “special” was burned into my brain and regularly emphasized on) but the strangest thing happened … as time went on I focused *less* on their “special needs” and more on the fact that they had stolen my heart and I had fallen head over heels in love with each and every one of them. When I looked at them I did not see any special needs, I did not see anything “different” about them all I could see was their strength, their tenacity and optimism, I saw their love for me and for as much as I worried over them and my ability to care for them or understand them they loved me no matter what I did (mistakes or no mistakes!) and then I realized something extremely important…

All they needed was love and compassion with a dash of empathy and a willingness to learn. Their label of being “special needs” was not a reflection of their love, their personalities and the grasp they would have on my heart and soul.

I suppose though that none of this would actually come to a shock to those who know me know that nothing in my life is considered “normal” or standard” by any means and that is alright — what is that old saying? “Variety is the spice of life” and I have a variety of specially-abled pets that are all strong, resilient and fill my life and my heart with so much love!

If given the option ALWAYS take a chance on a specially-abled pet!