A Leash Above

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Stories of Maddie Part 1

On Monday, I was shocked to discover my golden retriever, Maddie, had lymphoma. It was not a diagnosis I imagined to get. When we brought her in that morning she was having difficulty breathing and I thought she had an allergic reaction to something. This dog walked 2 miles Sunday without any difficulty whatsoever. The mass in her chest is about the size of her heart. All her lymph nodes are engorged. We have had her since she was 7 weeks old. She just turned 6 in May. Not enough days…not enough days. Whatever time she has left we will make them wonderful for her. I thought you all might like to know more about this amazing little fur baby.

Maddie at Pick Up Time

Maddie at Pick Up Time

Before she was Maddie, she was known by the breeder as “tail.” She was marked with a pink spot on her tail. Her mother and father were champion hunters. Because she had a crooked tooth, she would not be able to be part of hunting trials. The woman, Mercedes Hitchcock, was taken by Patrick’s story. I shared that we had just lost our rescue golden retriever, Buddy. Buddy stunned us when he alerted us that my son was having a seizure on our bed. We wondered if a dog that came from a line of hunters could be trained to smell pre-seizure activity and warn us. And we wanted a puppy again. The group we did the adoption with for Buddy felt an older dog was better for us and would not give us a puppy. This road didn’t seem like an option to us. I understand there are a lot of shelter dogs and I believe in adoption, but we had what I felt were a special set of circumstances that made it okay for us. Mercedes came with high recommendations from other breeders in the area. She did not sell her puppies on the side of the road. She did not even advertise. She did not even have a web site.

If you look at where the tail starts on her back end, you'll see the pink nail polish mark.

If you look at where the tail starts on her back end, you’ll see the pink nail polish mark.

It took us a few weeks to come up with a name for her. We discovered her brothers had some powerful names: Belvedere’s Mercedes Benz (aka Ben) and Belvedere’s Indiana Jones (aka Indy). Having both been from New York and the fact that golden retrievers are excellent marketers, we finally settled on Belvedere’s Madison Avenue (aka Maddie). She grew into wearing the “bling.”

She looked good in bling!

She looked good in bling!

I hope to share some funny stories with you about her in the days ahead. It will help us to cope with the overwhelming grief we are now experiencing.

Since the diagnosis has been confirmed and she is struggling a great deal, we have an appointment with our vet tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 12:15.

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Yesterday, I said goodbye to a friend, Inga. She was the fur-kid of my good friend and I had known her since she was puppy. We spent a lot of time together this past year-and-a-half. Although Inga was incredibly smart and playful, she also seemed to have the ability to read my mind. We enjoyed walks together, sitting out in the backyard and watching the sun setting, then going inside and playing with her squeaky toys, especially her octopus. I will always remember the time I was laying on the floor and she pounced on my head like she did her octopus. It was a riot and made me laugh so hard.  When the lawn people would come to mow, when she was let outside the first time after they left, she would run to the side gate because she knew they were stupid enough to leave it open and she could get out (she would always come back when told to, but it was like a game to her).


Me trying to get a selfie of me & Inga but Inga kept trying to kiss me.

I saw her on October 10th when I was visiting my friend. Inga was wobbly in her hind legs, but not any more than usual. When I went to care for her yesterday, I noticed a dramatic difference in her functioning.  My friend decided today that she would take her into the vet and let her forever rest.  It was hurting her to see Inga this way even though Inga was not in any pain. She was worried Inga would break her legs.


The last pic I took of Inga on Wednesday.

What did she have? Canine degenerative myelopathy. Below is a video of what it is all about. If you have any of the larger breed dogs, especially German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, etc., get to know what the symptoms are.


Recently, researchers have made a connection between canine degenerative myelopathy and human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease that may help them discover treatment methods to help both. Read more here.

I will never forget Inga. She had such a unique personality. Blessings in your life come in all forms. She came into mine full-force on all fours. Be at peace my sweet friend.