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!).
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!
- 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 )
- weakness in the back legs
- walking differently
- signs of muscle wastage in the back legs
- an abnormally shaped back
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!
As a 30 something year old married woman I often get the age-old irritating question that I am sure plague many of you,
“so, when are you having kids of your own?”
Which is cool and all for those that want them but for me? I enjoy not pushing something the size of a large wet St. Bernard through something the size of a keyhole only to have my tatas drag on the ground every morning (kudos to all y’all mamas out there though – y’all are such MVP’s!!!)
But the statement that people should be echoing (because let’s be honest, I use that as a vehicle to talk about the adorable land of misfits) is, “you are a mom, just not in the traditional sense” which makes sense– we’re the land of misfits’ dudes!
Nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) we will say or do will ever be considered or filed away as “traditional”.
But a caregiver is a caregiver, right?
Whether you are a “mom” to a child, an animal that you have forged a deep emotional bond with, a friend, the elderly – anyone that you provide loving, compassionate care for, you are a “parent” in one form or another.
The next time someone approaches you in that sad sympathetic look with the tone of dismay over how they could never (cue the pearl clutching here) have an animal that is “special needs” and they simply do not know how we do it every day! Ask them why they feel that way and explain maybe you feel the same way about their situations. Do we not worry about our handicapable pets just like new parents fussing over their new baby?
Regardless of the situation, anytime you dedicate your heart to something as pure as an animal (handicapable or otherwise) or a baby or loved one, you are assuming the care, love, and responsibility for that helpless, defenseless being.
So no, I am not a mother in the traditional sense but what fun would that be in the land of misfits where we are all just a little out of the ordinary here?
Yet just like many of you I can say I am a nurturing caregiver (and a “parent”) here’s why:
- I have and will continue to handle more amounts of fecal matter than I had originally anticipated as a child (in case you were wondering, child me had that number at a hard zero – boy was I wrong). I wipe more ass than toilet paper at this point and my regular purchase of non-scented baby wipes has the local store concerned and puzzled.
- Everyone gets put to bed at nighttime – Maxwell is usually first to go: I help him use the facilities, we give him a little nighttime snack and then we brush his teeth, turn on his white noise machine (yes we play it and he loves the outdoor noises) and tuck him in his crib (a real baby crib) with his lamby he has had since a baby and has seen far better days. Followed by Bifford and Bart who also both get a little snack of canned food before bedtime before putting them to put with their brother Max in the “boys’ room” (or our spare room that has been commandeered by the handipets).
- On any given night you can hear crying, throwing up, fighting and more – just like kids can do (and yes there have been many a sleepless night up with a restless, crying or sick handipet).
So where is the disconnect?
A mother who cares for a newborn up to their elbows in diapers and crying is a “mom”, but I am up to my eyeballs in poop many nights up all night crying because I was tired and frustrated, but felt guilty for being so upset because just like babies the handipets do not understand.
One of the major differences is that with “traditional” mothers eventually their children grow up, grow independent and off on their own but as we all know (especially here at the adorable land of misfits) is that our babies never “grow up”, Maxwell will forever need assistance using the bathroom, he will always need me to wipe his booty, help in and out of his wheelchair and require constant attention.
Bifford will still cry when he falls (he is a bottle kitten after all) and need the “danglers” clipped from his long hair, Bart will still need me to help him wipe the half inch long dangling boogers from his nose.
They are each adorable, affectionate, disgusting in their own individual ways and I often describe them to people as my “adorable dumpster fires” at home but I would not change a thing because the things that make them adorable and gross are the qualities that make them who they are, make them unique and keeps our lives here interesting and entertaining.
Because the “misfits” are the patchwork to a vibrant and beautiful life, right? Or how about the age old saying “variety is the spice of life”, that definitely applies to being a handicapable pet parent.
Regardless of if were parents to kids, animals (handicapable or otherwise!), friends or the elderly we are all “moms” and “dads” in our own uniquely misfit way and its worthy of commendation and respect!!
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.