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!

The Emotional Roller Coaster of NYE

NYE – a time for people to come together and reflect on the past year while making resolutions for the fresh new year ahead but sometimes it can be emotionally exhausting for some (especially those overly empathetic or sensitive like I am!).

Needless to say the last few months have been a surreal experience – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s… where this year the memories will be different, despite my best efforts to remain inside the comfort of habit of the holidays come and gone I am forced to accept change and must endure the vacuum inside my heart … suffering in waves the sorrow and loss of my heart and soul – Maggie Mae.

I did know know what a “heart pet” was until I started working in the veterinary field — for those of you not familiar with the term a “heart pet” is something of a “soul mate” (but for four legs not two!) and simply a term that has coined an animal that has left such a profound effect on your life in ways you never thought imaginable.

Now, I get e-mails all of the time, “but Suzi what about the rest of the land of adorable misfits at your house?”

I love every single one of my “adorable misfits” and they enrich my life and fill my heart with love that overflows but they aren’t Maggie.

Maggie who was there when I turned 18 years old – so confident that since I was officially an “adult” (insert giggles here) and knew everything there was to know about “adulting” (again insert giggles here).

Maggie who was there when I moved into my first house – who we huddled together on the nights the old furnace didn’t keep us completely warm, or the summer days that were too hot but despite that Maggie always needed to be touching me (or on those real hot days “peel” was a more correct term).

Maggie who was there when I turned 21. Who was there when I experienced my first major break-up, Maggie who gave us the strength to uproot and leave a toxic, abusive relationship.

Maggie who was there when I got married. Who was there when I turned 30.

For every photo with Santa (and the Easter bunny!), for every halloween costume, every St. Patrick’s day we dyed her green (non-toxic of course!), for every Christmas that we carefully laid her stocking out to be filled with gifts and snacks or every New Years Eve that Maggie was the first kiss of the New Year.

You get comfortable — they are there for all of the milestones and in your mind and heart you convince yourself they will always be there.

Until one day they are not.

And then you feel like you are lost and standing in the middle of an open field and it is just a whirlwind of emotions.

And for every storm there comes a rainbow! For as much as I was mourn and miss my holiday traditions with Maggie Mae … I am starting brand new traditions with Maxwell.

Happy New Year Friends! Just like all of you I am sure that 2021 was full of highs and lows, dips, stomach dropping adventures — but we made it! Here is to hoping we all have a happy, healthy & prosperous new year!

The Maxwell Chronicles (Continued…)

Have you ever heard the age old “tale” that having children one does not get an instruction manual but do you know what else they do not give you a manual to?


Or more specifically — handiPUGS.

It is even more difficult when you have a handipug who has a medical diagnosis that is not commonly seen (all of you handipet parents with those rare babies know exactly what I am lamenting about!) so you run into the problem of worry that is almost like an onion and you can peel away the layers but its just a different avenue of worry.

“Could this minor issue/problem be somehow related to their diagnosis?”

Can they handle or tolerate minor wellness things such as vaccines or dental cleanings?”

Am I doing everything that I can possibly be doing for their comfort, happiness & well-being?”

I am the very first to admit that I am stumbling in the dark when it pertains to Maxwell and his diagnosis (multiple limb deformity & kyphosis) but I am always willing to learn and continue to learn about dudes like Maxwell but in the meantime I am sort of learning by the absolute seat of my pants.

Is that scary? Absolutely.

But what can you do? You just have to keep “pressing on” because what else is there possibly to do? So you roll with the good and you roll with the bad just like life.

For every heart warming video I post of Maxwell cruising in his wheelchair there is probably a memory to match that of him and I up all night long while I hose down his bed that he managed to smear poop all around in (we suspect a nerve was pinched in his spine which was causing his legs to kick madly) or panic texting the patient vet’s that I work with because Maxwell is behaving in pain and I am constantly worried that he will BLOAT (again, insert face palm here!) and that I probably sprouted another few dozen gray hairs worrying if I am doing all of the right things for Maxwell all while not breaking the bank, being a pest to my co-workers or straining my marriage — sometimes handipets are dirty work and sure sometimes my husband and I bicker and squable over the animals, their “abilities” and if they in fact rule the house or not (I have accepted the fact they run the house but I fear my husband is still in denial and thinks we stand a chance — we do not), some days I am absolutely a few minutes late to social engagements because I had to hose off/sanitize/hazmat/biohazard someone’s litter box, bed, behind, paws or on one occasion face but it is life and I do believe that everything happens for a reason and there was a purpose and a reason that my adorable crew of misfits came to bless our home.

And then there are some memories that you just laugh at the horribly-timed misfortune that if you do not laugh you will cry type of moments – like when we took Bifford on his first adventure to Michigan and were unsure how to handle the bathroom issue so at the time my husband and I decided that a diaper would be the best plan of action (in case you were wondering it was not, in fact, the best plan of action!) but we had not decided who would be the official “checker” if we happened to find ourselves catching whiffs of atomic sulfur.

So if you can picture my husband and I circling our vehicle as if we are in some sort of a hazmat standoff because we could not decide who was about to check if Bifford graced us with a code brown or not. After a heated round of few choice words and panic I took the plunge and became the hero that day and checked (luckily it was a false alarm!).

But just like in life, a life with handipets is not for the weak person. They are no more work if you go in with an open mind, a healthy serving of patience and then lastly (but most important) … you must have a warped sense of humor! How else do you cope with life in general? Which is why we enjoy posting all of our funny, adorable, cuddly and sometimes messed up memories because they are all warm memories to us!