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!

08/2021 Sophisticate Woman Magazine

We want to thank Jan Windhorst & Sophisticated Woman magazine for this beautiful feature on Bifford and his “campaign”! Without amazing friends like them helping us spread the word on specially-abled animals NONE of this would be possible!! Be sure to check out their magazine at www.SophisticatedWoman.com

Hope for Special Needs Animals

WRITTEN BY: JAN WINDHORST

Bifford Finds Hope

Until Suzi Langer came along, 11-year-old Bifford, like other special needs animals, had a rough life. He was rejected by his mother as a kitten and adopted and surrendered numerous times. Suzi, a vet tech, took on the long-haired domestic cat when a local shelter reached out reporting that Bifford was being bullied by the other cats. “He has poor balance, but I had no idea what was wrong with him at the time. When I brought him to a wellness clinic for regular shots, I was shocked and angered that they offered to put him down as a courtesy. He was wobbly but certainly not ready to die.”

Now on a mission to help Bifford and other cats like him, Suzi learned that he has a neurological disorder called cerebellar hypoplasia or CH. “His underdeveloped brain affects his coordination, but he’s not in any pain. He doesn’t know he’s different and runs and plays like any other cat would. CH pets can have happy and healthy life spans. They can learn to adapt to their abilities and compensate over time.” Suzi is blazing a trail for changing attitudes about disabled cats and dogs. She wants to change the idea that the solution to CH is euthanasia. “The condition is just misunderstood, and we’re trying to remove the stigma from it. The severity of CH can vary, but putting them down is not the answer.” 

Suzi also has an epileptic rat terrier with a bullet in his hip, a blind cat, and a pug with spina bifida and swimmer syndrome that affects his front legs. The compassionate caregiver says she’s working to train the pug and has a wheelchair on order, but that getting one is a long process.

Suzi is Inspired to Help Others

Aside from her love of animals, Suzi also has a very personal reason for changing attitudes about disability. Eleven years ago, at 22, Suzi developed epilepsy. “It was terrifying to suddenly have this condition. I had my first seizure in a college classroom. I now know what it’s like to live with that stigma, and the misunderstanding around my own health and abilities is phenomenal. I know I can do remarkable things, and even if they’re disabled, people and animals are all still worthy of love. So, just like me, with patience and work Bifford’s going to do awesome. If you have empathy and love to give, that’s half the battle.”

Based in Youngstown, Ohio, Suzi is in the process of establishing a non-profit to get the word out about fostering, adopting, volunteering and donating. “We work with organizations and agencies to offer information and resources related to care of special needs pets – especially those with CH. Our website, presidentbifford.com, has an interactive map with special-needs-friendly clinics and facilities. People who’ve been told to put down their cats with conditions like CH are desperate for a second opinion. Our resources allow them to get that.” 

Now branching out to cover more states and a wider scope of special needs including wheelchairs for amputees and paralyzed animals, Suzi says the response has been encouraging. “We’ve had ten calls from all over the country this past week. We have resources in Louisiana but want to expand. Vets and professionals can sign up with us as CH friendly or to learn more so that they can become a needed resource. Our band of ‘specially-abled’ pet parents wants to keep learning and educating others.”

Suzi says that 10 years ago she knew nothing about special needs animals but that she can’t imagine her life without them now. “Please adopt and don’t just go for the cute ones. Pay attention to those that are frightened or need more patience. You might just find the love of your life. Bifford has taught me a lot about tenacity and resiliency. He’s helped me grow as a young woman since that first terrifying seizure. I’ve also learned not to baby him too much. We’re both survivors. With the right attitude, work and love we’ll be OK and make the world a little easier place for specially-abled people and pets to thrive.”

Bifford

For more information about disabled or special needs animals and their care, or to register as a special-needs-friendly
veterinarian or clinic, visit presidentbifford.com.

Handicapped Pet Foundation — Store!

In December 2021, Bifford’s momma was voted onto the Board of Directors for the Handicapped Pets Foundation!


The Handicapped Pets Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the health and well-being of elderly, disabled, and injured pets, we donate new or reconditioned wheelchairs to pets-in-need. The Handicapped Pets Foundation is dedicated to extending the life of disabled pets by helping them move; getting the exercise they need to live long, happy, healthy lives.

The Handicapped Pet’s Foundation has an online store and a portion of all proceeds go to benefit handipets and the increasing need for mobility devices for animals! You can check out their store here!