Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Me, Cardigan Corgis, IVDD & the Lottery

I am not a particularly lucky person.  I consider myself fortunate to have a very nice life, but lucky I am not.

I don't win raffles, silent auctions, or drawings.  I have never won any amount of money with a lottery ticket.  Come to think of it, the only thing I've ever won in my life is a TV when I was in college, and the only reason I won this is that the person who held the winning ticket got too drunk and had to go back to her dorm room to pass out, and my ticket was drawn next.

What does this have to do with Cardigans?  And IVDD?  

My piss-poor luck continues here, I'm afraid.  I got my first Cardigan, Maggie, in 2000.  Overall, I've had four Cardigans.  3 of my four Cardigans have reached "IVDD age" (my term)  -- between 3 - 6/7 years old.  According to Dodger's List (a GREAT IVDD resource) and others, this is the age when the first IVDD episode is likely to occur.  

Of these 3 Cardigans, 2 of them have had IVDD episodes.  That's a 67% occurrence of IVDD within my pack.  That sucks.  Since we there are currently no figures I can find regarding what percentage of Cardigans have an IVDD episode, I can't find out statistically just how unlucky I am.  Of course, figuring that out would also require me to dig up notes from my stats classes, so it's probably for the best.  

In Dachshund's, however, it's estimated that between 20-30% of all dogs will have an IVDD episode.  So I'd be unlucky even if I were a Dachshund owner.  

My first dog to have problems with IVDD was Denzil.  His first episode happened around 4 years of age.  The second episode occurred about a year and a half after the first.  Thankfully, he never went fully down in the back, and we were able to treat him with steroids, pain killers, and crate rest.  

Denzil recovered from both episodes, and he was able to resume normal activity (e.g., daily walks).  His performance career, however, was pretty much curtailed.  I did not want him jumping and twisting, so agility was out.  And so was obedience -- he already had his CD, and too much jumping was required to train for Open or Utility.  We did do a bit of Rally, but Denzil then started to have secondary problems with arthritis in his stifles, so he got to retire to a slower life with my parents.

Denzil LOVED agility -- running!  jumping!  barking!  Hooray!!

My second dog with IVDD, of course, is Ziggy, and we're still on the journey.

All of this has caused me to do a lot of thinking about my chosen breed - is it still the breed for me?

For better or worse, IVDD has really disrupted my whole world and way of thinking as it relates to my dogs, performance sports with the dogs, and how I care for the pack.  

This is a large part of the reason I've not been blogging much lately.  What to say about all of this, and how to say it?  I have a few posts in mind that I'll share in the coming weeks.  Bear with me.


  1. I can't think of anything helpful to say, Lani. Some of us are putting efforts into funding IVDD research -- hoping there is a genetic link that will help us breed away from it. In the meantime, our dogs-with-no-legs are simply so susceptible. I hope when you work through all of this, you still believe Cardis are the breed for you.

  2. I have to admit IVDD scares me to death! My first Cardi had it manifest at 9, with several more incidents throughout his life. The incidents were horribly painful for him, but steroids, etc. kept him going. I didn't do performance back then and the internet was not as evolved for me to connect with other Cardi owners. As a result, I didn't know how common IVDD is. But now that there are so many email lists and all the individual blogs, you hear of Cardis going down pretty often. And it does make me question whether having a Cardi is a good choice. Certainly, back problems or not, Cardis are not a great agility pick. They may have the heart and the smarts, but they are definitely not well built for jumping. I am not sure I'll ever train another dog in agility, but if I do, it won't be a Cardi. I do so love their personalities, I would miss having one.
    That being said, the only thing I can see to do is let my boys live their lives playing the games they want to play, feed them the best food I can, give supplements, keep them fit and slim...and then just pray.

  3. I echo Penni.

    That said, there are sometimes choices to be made. If your first goal in having dogs is competition in agility, then a Cardigan might not be the right breed.

    If your first choice is having Cardigans and then doing things with them, then they can be the right breed. They are for me, though I haven't competed in agility lately. I have been reconsidering that for Kady however. I believe she may *need* to do agility. At the moment she is a home-course amateur.

    You have had bad luck. I'm sorry about Denzil. Obviously none of us knew that several in his litter would be affected. But overall, I have had a number of Cardigans and of the ones in my household, Juneau is the only one who went down and needed surgery. Julie had some issues in the neck area at the age of 9 which cleared up with crate rest and steroids (followed by rimadyl). She lived to 15. AFAIK only one of her "kids" succumbed to IVDD: Maggie's sister Music at the age of 11 or 12. Two were lost to DM, which *is* something we can eliminate. Julie's oldest living offspring is now 16, Duncan is 14 and doing well, Maggie and her remaining siblings will soon be 13. Julie had a total of 25 surviving puppies from her three litters. But there have been a couple of grandkids or great-grandkids who have gone down. Is that relevant?

    My overall percentage has been very low except for that cluster of Denzil's litter. But even when it's one in a litter of 8, like Ethan, it still hurts.

    Alice will soon be 12 and has had no back issues (knock on wood). I am holding good thoughts for her TM and Hunter kids, as both sires have also reached veteran status; veteran plus plus in the case of Hunter. Rip's sire Wally is 7, dam Hannah is 6, neither has had an issue to date.

    I have noted that in my experience I have seen more males go down than females. I don't know if that's coincidental.

    Believe me, if my rate was 66.67% I would be looking for a new breed.

  4. I don't have any helpful advice or words really either, but I felt the need to comment anyway. Cardigans are a hard breed to love sometime. Like Taryn said they are all heart and sometimes the body can't keep up.

    You are doing great things for Ziggy. I think the best thing for this sort of situation is to take it one day at a time. But know that a lot of people are rooting for you!

  5. I've got an 11 year old Rememberance girl down right now. I think she'll come through OK, on steroids and rest at the moment. I had LH dachshunds for 20+ years. Had 2 out of 5 go down, but both came through without surgery and lived long lives. I think we just have to be extra careful in keeping them lean and fit and recognizing that they have physical limitations (even though they cannot recognize it in themselves!) All breeds have their issues. I lost dobes to heart and CVI, a 5 year old greyhound to diabetes insipidus...if you love your breed you just have to do your absolute best for them and the rest is probably a mixture of luck, environment and genetics.


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