Living with Degenerative Myelopathy
In September of 2021 we were contacted by Lynda Glover, Lincoln’s mom, describing her passion to spread awareness of the horrible canine disease Degenerative Myelopathy. We had met Lynda back in 2020 when she sent GenSol a thank you for sponsoring another fundraiser near and dear to her heart, Java’s Blankets of Love.
The more recent email was different, this one was personal. In this email Lynda shared her personal heartache regarding her furry companion Lincoln. Lincoln had received a test result of At-Risk for Degenerative Myelopathy. A dreadful progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak, and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic.
Being the extraordinary advocate that Lynda is, she not only wanted to spread awareness of DM, but she also wanted to encourage pet owners to test for DM. Lynda understands the hesitance pet owners experience over testing, fearing the worse, so she wanted to share Lincoln’s story in hopes that it would ease some of those fears pet owners have over testing.
GenSol Diagnostics have been proud sponsors of the ShadeOutDm Foundation for a couple years. It was Lynda’s story that encouraged us to honor Lincoln, an 11-year-old boxer, this year by naming him our inspiration for participating as a team in the 2021 Race At Your Own Pace to #ShadeOutDM (Virtual RACE). We let Lynda know that we wanted to honor Lincoln this way and asked her to share his story.
Here is Lincoln’s story told by his mom, Lynda Glover after we asked her permission to honor Lincoln by naming our corporate #ShadeOutDM team after him. Go GenSol Team Lincoln!!!
“Wow, I’m sitting here crying tears … good tears after reading your wonderful email about Gensol Team Lincoln.
I can only speak of DM because that is the journey Lincoln and I find ourselves on. THANK YOU, because I strongly believe many people are afraid of the unknown but when you put a face and story to any given test – they can see and understand there IS life after receiving uncomfortable results.
Lincoln was 8 weeks old when we found each other – he was the runt of the litter but more than perfect in my eyes, so I purchased him from a local breeder.
I first noticed a slight change in Lincoln’s gait about 4 years ago when he was seven and yet, the Vet gave him two thumbs up despite my concerns. Shortly afterwards, I changed Vets and mentioned something was just not right so our first step was to X-ray the hips and legs. They did not show much except stiffening in the joints (most likely a combination of age and a minor birth defect) so Lincoln was given supplements and weekly injections of Cartrophen in the hopes of improvement to his gait.
I waited and I watched for a couple of months before adding acupuncture, holistic supplements and cold laser to the game plan because doing something felt much better than doing nothing. Perhaps it really was a birth defect or perhaps arthritis was setting in but the little voice inside my head kept ‘nagging’ me to spend more time with the search bar.
So many links with so many possibilities, including articles which offered little or no hope for dogs presenting with the unmistakable symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy. My head was spinning, where do I go from here – which test will hopefully provide the answers so desperately needed – are the most expensive and/or invasive test(s) really necessarily when it comes to DM?
Thankfully, some articles mentioned a simple cheek swab test through Gensol Diagnostics which made the most amount of sense to me.
Gensol Diagnostics offered a much-needed lifeline to people, and pets stuck in limbo, not knowing which way to turn or which test to spend money on, especially if there is zero chance of a cure in the foreseeable future.
An in-depth exam by a medical professional is also a starting point which needs to include honest conversation about further testing, medical interventions, research AND the person’s emotional, physical and financially limitations.
The simple cheek swab test offered by GenSol, which does not hurt the wallet, becomes a valuable tool in the toolbox by identifying or eliminating genetic markers found in one or both parents. DM no longer requires us to immediately consider saying goodbye to our best friend(s) because knowledge is the ultimate power … it gives us the ability to imagine our most precious pups continuing to live their best lives filled with unconditional love, respect and laughter.
When Lincoln’s results arrived, my heart hurt but I also smiled knowing this would be the first day of a brand-new game plan and I could stop wasting valuable energy, money or time. Those same test results from Gensol actually inspired Lincoln’s Vet to look at things with a new set of eyes and a fresh approach to what’s next because this ‘dance with the devil’ requires the support of a village. As the Pandemic rules eased, we added physical therapy and weekly Underwater treadmill sessions which slowed the progression of DM, just long enough to prepare Lincoln for his next gig as neighborhood ‘race cart’ driver.
#ShadeOutDM is an organization working to raise awareness for both the canine (Degenerative Myelopathy) and human versions of ALS.
Currently, over 100 breeds of dogs are susceptible to DM. Some breeds are extremely prone to it, like Corgis who have 63% chance of carrying at-risk genes. The good part is that this disease is 100% preventable if breeders choose to make well educated and careful breeding decisions.
By raising awareness, #ShadeOutDM hopes to educate breeders and veterinarians on how to better prevent this disease. They host several yearly events, like their Race At Your Own Pace Event to help further their cause. If you’re interested in participating in the 2021 Race at your own Pace to #ShadeOutDM event here is what you need to do:
- Follow the Link Button below to the 2022 Event page
GenSol Team Lincoln Thanks You for your support!