My dog is a spoonie…

****Update 10/28/15

A few days after I wrote this, my Georgia stopped eating.  Two days of barely getting food into her.  Vet told me to wait to bring her in because she was drinking.  Turns out she has uveitis.  Ulcers on her eye.  So much pain that she could not eat. Not sure how she got it.  She had been treated for an eye infection and I’m guessing, she scratched it by rubbing her head (from syringomyelia).  In the past 4 weeks, Georgia was to the vet for dermatitis, protein in her urine, testing for lyme disease, and eye infection, and now uveitis.  My dog is almost more of a spoonie than I am….


I have a six year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  This is an amazing breed that tends to have serious medical conditions.  Georgia has a painful neurological disorder called Syringomyelia, luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, arthritis, chronic eye/ear infections, and her kidneys are showing signs of damage from her medication.  All of these illnesses cause pain.  As a person who lives in pain, I was determined she would never suffer.  Georgia takes 14 to 17 pills a day, and receives acupuncture monthly.  Basically, my dog is a spoonie like me (if you don’t know what that means check out “But You Don’t Look Sick”).  I was told she would not live to the age of three, so getting her to six was no easy chore.  I regret no choices I have made.  I gave up vacations, going out with friends, and many other things to make sure she got the medical care that she needs.

The past year or so, Georgia has had difficulty getting around.  I had to leave her behind when I went places because walking became too difficult for her.  Physical activity just drains her so much and would cause flares of her neurological symptoms.  After some thought and chats with other cavalier owners,  I caved in and purchased a stroller.  Since Georgia is a cutie who tolerates clothing & dressing up for Halloween (dressing up and entering contests wins prizes to help pay down her medical debt), everyone expected I would get a stroller as an “accessory”.  I didn’t.  I got it because she was in pain from walking.  Her age and health issues are taking its toll on her body.  She loves the park.  She loves the beach.  She just struggles with walking.  I wanted to make it easier on her.

Comments have been less than nice.  I’ve been teased and told how ridiculous I am.  I feel the need to defend myself for using it.  I guess it boils down to the fact that I live in pain.  I know how hard it is to walk when your joints hurt.  If I can help Georgia get around without pain, I’m going to do it.  Since using the stroller on outings, I’ve seen a huge decrease in Georgia’s neurological symptoms of rubbing her face until her skin is raw or biting her paws non-stop.  She doesn’t limp as much and she’s really happy on when we go out.  It’s also helped me.  I don’t have to carry my stuff anymore.  Just load it in the stroller.  Helps my arms and wrists hurt a lot less.  Today at a dog event, people were supportive and so sweet to Georgia.  Many come up to ask questions because they want to get one for their dog.  I also used it to take both of my pets to get a blessing on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  Lola seems to enjoy it, too!
So to those who have said mean things and tell me I’m ridiculous, I don’t care.  It doesn’t matter to me anymore.  I’ll be out and about enjoying my life while bringing my dog along for the ride. Georgia brings joy to my life and is happy girl.  In the end, that is all that matters.  Now if we could get breeders to test their dogs prior to breeding to prevent the horrible diseases that Cavaliers deal with from occurring, life would be perfect because I’d never need a stroller.

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

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