Note from specialty hospital:
"Although it is possible to continue to care for the patient as a companion, it may not be the best thing for him. As he continues to grow into a large dog, the stresses of the weight on his spine may predispose him to fracture or subluxation, especially due to the stabilizing joints and ligaments of the spine that are also malformed. Additionally, as he grows larger, the daily nursing care that will be required, such as bladder expression and helping with defecation, will become more challenging. This will be extremely difficult for any owner who does not have medical or veterinary background."
Well, I do have a veterinary background and was willing to give it a shot as his foster mom. We have done physical therapy, exercises, and hydrotherapy to build up his muscles as he's gotten older. He's gotten use to a wheel chair for mobility purposes and he has a schedule with bladder expression, diaper changes, etc. Due to the location of his deformity, he cannot be in his wheelchair for extended amounts of time (no more than 2 hours consecutively.) We have dealt with frequent UTI/bladder infections. He cannot move on his on (on mats with grip, drag bag, booties, nothing.) He needs to be moved frequently as to not develop pressure sores. Unless he is in his wheelchair, his quality of life is very low (in my opinion. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm doing the right thing by keeping him here. He has developed food aggression, which I honestly think is due to food being the only "fun or positive" thing for him. I have worked with a trainer on the food aggression as well, but that doesn't seem to be getting better.
Overall, I don't see his quality of life getting better or him being adopted to a family due to his aggression and disability. At 11 months old now, I'm beginning to see that that this is good as it's going to get for him, in regards to QOL. He's a puppy; he should be semi-energetic and engaging. As he ages, the frequency of UTIs will increase, arthritis risk, and risk of fracture or subluxation will increase. He is generally not "happy" and doesn't engage in play, but just lies there (unless physically moved.)
I just wanted to post and get other's opinions who have dealt with congenital issues, quality of life issues, and tough decisions.
Any suggestions or thoughts?
I agree with critters, I don't think anyone will judge any decision you make, we all do the best we can with what we know and are able at the time. I'd like to remove a couple of the negatives, but it's only part of the overall picture. It does not take someone with medical or veterinary experience to express the bladder and bowel, an army of people on this board have done it with dogs and cats, large and small, and we're mostly all just regular people. I do not see any reason why he would get more frequent UTIs as he ages. That has not been the history with my pets or other pets here that I know of.
Size is an issue even if he stays at 52 lbs. You can express and change diapers with him lying down, but he still has to be turned and put in a wheelchair and sometimes taken for appointments. Bless you for loading him in the car and taking him for therapy all these months, and doing the lifting. You are kind of limited to an adopter who is fit and strong.
I have no experience with mental issues in a dog except senility. So my next statement may be naive or ignorant. I do not understand why he does not at least try to move around. If it is mental, then I don't know the answer for that. Most paralyzed dogs power forward with their front legs, dragging when they can't walk, and if he has enough ability to stand in a wheelchair for 2 hours, then it seems like he should have enough strength in his front legs to drag. So I wonder what is interfering with this normal behavior of dragging. Could it be that when he goes up on his elbows and begins to stand, the amount of twist at the intersection of the normal part of his back where it meets the kyphosis area, is painful? If it is not mental, then I wonder if he has simply got some pain and would rather not move. If you are a rescue you may not be able to afford it, but I do wonder if he was on some kind of arthritis medication, as a trial, if he would begin to behave differently. It is hard to know if he's grumpy because of his mental issues, or because his back aches, and dogs hide and disguise pain and appear stoic. I'm not sure he would live a normal lifespan with his various conditions, but it seems like there is some reason why he is not enjoying the time he has more than it sounds like he is.
I don't think most dogs are in a wheelchair beyond 2 hours anyway, so that is not unusual, but most paralyzed dogs are not unhappy and unmoving when out of the cart. Whether they drag around the house or rule from a comfortable bed, they are involved.
I don't know what to suggest really, other than a trial of Rimadyl/Deramaxx/whatever the latest and safest arthritis/joint medicine is. Just lying there and unengaged is unusual. I am attaching a video of Joanne's dog Carl for comparison. He does not have kyphosis but is paralyzed in the rear. When I first saw it, I did not immediately realize which of the dogs was paralyzed.
I'm Joanne (also in the veterinary field), and "Crazy Carl" was one of the amazing paraplegics that I have been blessed to have in my life. Reading about your pup I have a couple of questions. Firstly, are there any other dogs in your household? If so, how does he interact with them? Is there a reason (ortho/neuro) why he is not able to move on his own? I'm also interested if there has been any other testing done (e.g. MPS), especially given the cranial abnormalities? I need to head out to work but will think more about your pup and update my post later.