Meet Diego

RMGDRI Permanent Foster

Diego aka Dex was born in rescue on 3-31-2019, just one day after his mother came into rescue. As he began to grow, he had several health issues.  He tested positive for Giardia and was treated and also experienced some respiratory issues. When he was around 6 months old, he started having seizures.

Diego is the last Puppy from our Destination Litter remaining in rescue. He suffers from epilepsy and requires a number of daily medications and a very strict day-to-day routine to manage this condition. We are working to get his medications just right to prevent the seizures, but it will be an ongoing process for the rest of his life.

Please Sponsor Diego

12/4/2019 – Diego has arrived to his next foster home.

12/5/2019 – Overall, everything is going well. He’s got quite the regimen of pills but we’ll manage. 

My German Shepherd Chief accepted him almost immediately, offering him his best toys and even started to wrestle. My Great Dane Ruewina was initially excited to meet him, but is more in shock at his size and is having trouble accepting his immaturity. This is the first ever Great Dane she has met. We’re taking things slow, giving everyone time to adjust at their own pace.

The similarities between Rue & Diego are crazy! The kids were having trouble distinguishing between the two of them. Thank goodness, they’re boy and girl.

He did have a seizure today that started at 11:58 am and lasted about 70 seconds. I picked up on the Aural phase (changes in his behavior before the seizure) and had enough time to shut my dogs in a room without them even noticing and clear the area in time before the seizure started.

Seizure was typical – anal glands were expressed, he did dribble urine – it wasn’t an entire bladder, but enough that the dog bed will be washed.  After he had ~2 mins of ‘comatose’-like rest before he popped up and walked around like a drunken sailor. He’s currently resting on his bed.

12/7/2019 – Diego did end up having another seizure later in the evening about 9 pm. Lasted about 75 seconds, lots of froth, bladder leakage, etc. Setting that aside, yesterday was a great day and today has been just as great. I think today we can officially say that we have perfected his potty schedule and have had no accidents in the house at all so far. I took him over to the veterinary office to get weighed and he’s 99.8 lbs He soaked up the love from the technicians working at the time and it seems they look forward to seeing him later in the month.

A few things about Diego that I think are important: he’s a chair thief!! And once he’s asleep, there’s no moving him; his zoomies are intense – I described him earlier as a bucking bronco. He can be so calm and mellow and instantly become a bull in a china shop. If there wasn’t a wall behind my couch, I’m sure he would have flipped it by now.

12/10/2019 – He is 4.5 days without any seizures. Woot! Woot!

Today, I used up what was left of Diego’s food (that was sent with him) for breakfast. And the Chewy shipment is not here yet. I ended up feeding him my German Shepherd’s food which is Canidae Platinum, same protein as his previous food, but lower calorie. He had the Canidae for lunch and dinner today and ate it without issue. I do believe it is more filling for him because he ate all 3 cups at noon for lunch but only ate 1.5 cups for dinner and I had to force feed his pills. Next bowel movement will indicate how well his GI-tract handles the sudden change. I will let you know when that happens. . .

Anyways, tomorrow is his appointment. He will have a weight check and hopefully blood drawn. Dr. S encourages us to continue sending it to Auburn University. She said that’s the best place, plus they have a Neurology pathologist on board to help with dosing.

He received an enormous amount of attention from people at my sister’s office. I’m not sure of everything this office does but I know it assists families with communicating with the schools when it comes to students and needing extra services. They were more than excited to meet Diego and learn about his special needs. 😊

12/12/2019 – I’m sad to say the seizure-free count restarts today. He went 5 full days with no seizures and yesterday we had a minor hiccup when we started the day and that seriously screwed up his whole day. ( ☹ ) . He had a seizure at 6 am that lasted about ~70 seconds (dribbled urine) and another at 12:15 that last ~70 seconds (anal glands were expressed). Both seizures were typical and happened right before I could feed him his meals & meds.

He had an appointment last night where he met Dr. H.  Setting aside Diego’s neurological condition. He is a healthy growing puppy. Dr. H (& the other staff members) were happy to meet him and Diego enjoyed the attention he received. He was one of the last appointments of the day and the weather turned white out/blizzard, so he had the place to himself for the most part. He weighed 98.2 lbs. So he lost a little more than a pound since I took him in this last Saturday. I’ll continue to monitor his weight like a hawk but Diego & Rue have been playing a lot together and we also need to consider that he has been eating a low calorie food for the last day and a half. I checked on the tracking for the Chewy shipment and it says it’s out for delivery today.

I have a lot of information that I’d like to bring to everyone’s attention, so bear with me because this could become a rather lengthy email. I’m going to list out Dex’s monthly expenses below:

  • I estimate that Dex will go through ~ 84 lbs of dog food per month. If kept on his current food, that’ll cost ~$236.25 per month. If I can successfully transition him to a different food, still high quality but lower cost, I might be able to reduce the food cost to ~$136.50 per month.
  • Medications – KBr 1250 mg BID – ~$85.00 per month,  Levitiracetam XR 1500 mg BID – ~$145.80 per month,                                     Zonisamide 325 mn BID – ~$37.80 for 100 mg & $9.00 for 25 mg, Tylan #0 capsule BID – $54 for 100 grams ( + capsule cost) –Total – ~331.60 per month
  • Dr. S was running blood titers on Diego monthly, sometimes twice a month. It’s necessary to make sure that these medications stay within therapeutic range or else Diego has seizures. In order to continue running the same blood work and maintain Diego’s meds appropriately that’ll cost ~$755.25 per month for at least the next 6 months or until he stops growing and his med levels remain consistent.
  • Dex is already neutered and given that he remains consistently healthy and no emergencies occur basic veterinary care (exam, vaccinations, HWT, fecal) I’d estimate to fall within $300-500 per year or $25 – $42 per month

As you can see, Dex’s monthly expenses listed up above to this point will come to ~$1365.10 per month or $16,381.20 per year!! And this does not include Neurology Specialist expenses which would be necessary in order to continue working locally with Dr. H. Given Dex’s care so far, Dr. H is totally on board with making adjustments to Diego’s care, whether it be blood work, meds, etc. under the direction of a Veterinary Neurologist.

An MRI with the nearby Veterinary University would cost ~$2800. As with any diagnostic, the MRI could show something or show nothing at all, but no matter the results, the information would be invaluable. In other words, an MRI could show a brain tumor or lesion or fluid on the brain and then we know that while anti-convulsant medication is reducing the amount of seizures, the meds won’t prevent Diego’s condition from getting worse. Or an MRI could come back clean and we could continue to work with a neurologist and see Diego through the growth period and hope that we get to a point where his med dosages remain consistent.

12/13/2019 – Yesterday, Diego was still experiencing some residual soft stool from the sudden change of food. And did have an accident in the house. In the process of cleaning up this mess, I found an almost perfect pill of Levetiracetam (Generic form of Keppra). I spoke to Dr. S about it and she said she had only ever found one pill like that. I brushed it off as a fluke until his next bowel movement which contained one and a half pills. And his poop this morning contained all 3. ***Could THIS be why he’s continuing to have seizures AND why this medication is never within therapeutic range?***

I immediately told Dr. S that I’m continuing to find his meds undigested in his bowel movements and I suggested that we adjust to the standard form of Levetiracetam instead of the extended release. She agreed. I will be using a bottle of Levetiracetam that Dr. S sent that is non-extended release until I can speak with Dr. H about refilling it at a local human pharmacy.

12/15/2019 – We’re into day 4 on no seizures. I’d like to think he’s transitioned well to the regular form of Levetiracetam but only blood titers will tell us. Those can’t be taken until 5 days after a med adjustment. We will continue to work with Dr. S & Dr. H on getting blood work completed. 

12/23/2019 – He is 103.8 lbs. He had a last minute exam over the weekend in order to refill his Potassium Bromide medication. He goes through a lot of pills…..😳  As long as my math is correct, he should be good for a few weeks.  Also, I started mixing his food. He’s had three meals so far and his stool has been unchanged. Keep thinking good thoughts. 👍🏼

12/25/2019 – Seizure-free count restarts now. He had a 14 day 9 hour stretch with no seizures. 

We just got back from holiday festivities – Diego came with us. After unloading from the car, he became spooked. I tried to hug on him and talk him through but he went right into a seizure in the driveway. Lasted about 70 seconds, typical; anal glands were expressed; lots of froth. 

12/27/2019 – Diego had another seizure this morning at 5:15 am. The seizure that occurred this morning happened in his sleep and I haven’t been able to pick up on a trigger yet.

The seizure itself lasted ~90 secs. But after the seizure was over, I still think he may have still been seizure-ing internally for another 15 – 20 mins. His breathing became sporadic in waves and there was a couple times I had to double check and make sure he was still breathing. Seizure itself was typical. Once he recovered, I was able to walk him outside to potty and he still ate breakfast with pills at 5:45 – 6 am.

He is almost completely onto the new food now. There has been no change to his stool at all. I’ll give him at least another week to become more accustomed to this food before I start tapering back the tylan and replacing the tylan powder with a probiotic. Diego is no longer receiving the extended release tablets. He has been on the normal release pills for about two weeks now and I am not finding any more pills in his poop.

On another note, I’d like to get Diego set up with the neurologist. This is something that we don’t have to rush into. I have kept Dr. S up to date on everything and she has been keeping Dr. L up to date. We can continue to work through Dr. L in the meantime. If there’s a chance that I could schedule this within the next week, that would be super awesome! But if we have to wait, that’s ok too.

1-1-2020 – Diego had a seizure this afternoon at ~2:20 pm that happened outdoors and lasted about 90 seconds. Seizure was typical with froth and expressed anal glands. Diego recovered quickly and after brief play with Rue, both are knocked out on the couch. 

His bloodwork needs to be retaken. I will continue to arrange this with Dr. H but also think that scheduling his care with the neurologist is needed at this point.

Diego had another seizure just now (6:00 pm) while I was preparing his dinner. Lasted about 85 secs; typical; lots of froth and anal glands were expressed. His recovery was quick and he immediately ate his dinner. I let Dr. S know about his seizures and she has increased his Zonisamide to 350 mg. If Diego has another seizure in 3 days, I’ve been instructed to increase the Zonisamide to 375 mg.

1-2-2020 – Diego had another seizure this morning at 5:45 am …. it lasted about 90 secs and he recovered quickly. He ate his breakfast without issue and took his pills.  Overall, the seizures are typical. We’ve only ever had that one really bad seizure. Since being here he’s had a total of 6 seizures- 3 of which happening in the last three days. 

I have scheduled him an appt with Dr. B, a neurologist at UVS. His appt is on Tuesday at 12:30. 

1-8-2020 – Diego is 6 days seizure-free.

He had his neurology appointment yesterday and traveled like a champ! He did great while checking into his appointment and behaved like an absolute gentleman. He seemed a little terrified of a 5 lb. Yorkie that was extra curious of this super mellow giant towering over everything. He weighed in at 109.6 lbs! He’s a big boy! 

A good portion of this consult was spent talking about Diego’s history and what has led us to this point. Based on the left forebrain localization, Dr. B is suspicious that Diego has cryptogenic epilepsy rather than idiopathic epilepsy. Cryptogenic meaning that his seizures are of unknown etiology and are not associated with previous central nervous system insult known to increase the risk of developing epilepsy. If Diego does have an idiopathic form of epilepsy it is likely a refractory form which is typical of juvenile onset. After discussing with Dr. B our options, together we came to the conclusion of starting Diego on Phenobarbital. Dr. B also encourages that we raise funds for a MRI.  

The hope is, that if Dex can go seizure free for a certain period of time (Dr. Bishop didn’t specify how long) that we might be able to start weaning him off of Keppra and/or Zonisamide. As of today, Dex is 11 days without a seizure. 🙂 

1-14-2020 – Diego is 12 days seizure-free. He’s been on Phenobarbital for 5 ½ days now and does experience immense amounts of ataxia. Ataxia is the impaired balance and coordination that can be expected when starting a medication like Phenobarbital. Both Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide can cause ataxia and the combination of the two drugs can often cause increased ataxia – Diego is definitely experiencing the “increased ataxia”. Dr. B assures me that Diego will adjust to the addition of this medication within 7-10 days. 5 days down, only 5 more to go. . . 

1-29-2020  – (Drum roll) Today marks day 27 of no-seizures…. Woot! Woot!!  Still waiting on results from blood work completed last week.  Lately, I’ve been working weaning off Tylan powder and replacing it with a probiotic. Everything was seemingly going great until yesterday. Yesterday would have marked the 6th day of no Tylan powder, but he also had projectile diarrhea. So he’s back on the Tylan powder twice a day. This morning’s poop was 80% better already. It may take awhile to wean him off the tylan powder completely. I’m confident that I can maintain him on one pill every other day for a while and move to one every two days and so forth. 

In a nutshell, once we got past the 20 day mark, it was like a banshee got let out of a cage. He is a very active, persistently playful puppy. He’s starting to jump up on things: counter, table, dog gate, etc. He lacks the strength to hold himself up on such things, but just being able to do it is new for him. He still experiences a lack of coordination, balance, but it’s not as bad as it was. 

I forgot to add that he likes bobbing for socks. We have a dedicated sock basket where everyone’s socks are collected before they’re matched. And this weirdo buries his entire face into the socks, comes up shaking with mouthful! 🤣

Given his history of foreign body removal. I have been on my kids about shedding their socks in an appropriate area and we now keep the sock basket behind a closed door. 

1-31-2020 – Diego’s blood work is in! Both Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide are within therapeutic range!! Next on the to-do list is a CBC and chemistry profile to make sure all of his organs are in check, given the amount of medications he’s on. 

2-1-2020 –  Today marks Day 29 no-seizures for this guy! So great! 

I heard back from Dr. B on whether or not we can start tapering back some of the anticonvulsants he’s not interested in keeping in Diego’s arsenal. Unfortunately, Dr. B wants to keep all medications the same. He does not recommend tapering any medications at this time and typically won’t start those adjustments until he sees a 6-month seizure-free interval. That’s a really tall order . . . .

2-4-2020 – Updated cost list:  **Everything is based on a 30-day month**

Phenobarbital – $31.59, KBr – $82.48, Keppra – $35.16, Zonisamide – (100 mg – $43.49, 50 mg – $4.50,  25 mg – $5.65), Neurotrophin  – $28.80, Hemp Oil Complex – $80.30, Omego Bits – $8.65, Pre/probiotic – $4.55, Pill pockets – $31.92,  Nutro Wholesome Chicken dog food – $86.56 (eats about 60 lbs of dog food per month), Blood work – $550.00, Basic vet care – $25-$42  — Total – $1018.65  ** this does not include tylan powder & capsules, and does not include specialty care costs.

— Diego is now ~125 lbs. and 10 month old.  The biggest challenge for Diego (& us) is maintaining all of his medications within therapeutic range while he’s growing like a weed!! Diego’s primary veterinarian, neurologist, & RMGDRI’s veterinary director work closely together to make sure this sweet fellow stays healthy and seizure-free.

Today marks Day-42 of no-seizures. Which is so exciting for this guy! That is the longest stretch of no-seizures that he has ever had! Diego has a very mellow demeanor but loves to play with ropes and is an absolute glutton for food. He enjoys roughhousing with his foster Dane sister Ruewina but can also be found catching a good nap with her too. He loves people of all sizes and if given the opportunity, he will sit in your lap fully expecting to be loved and scratched. How could you not?!

2-14-2020  – I’m sorry to report that Diego experienced a seizure at ~4:30 am this morning. It lasted ~35 secs and he bounced right up and was ready to go outdoors to potty. While it is sad that he experienced this minor setback, it did not last nearly as long as his other seizures, there was no froth, no anal gland expression, maintained bladder and bowel control. I’d like to think that these are all good things. I’ll be reaching out to Dr. B to let him know and will update everyone once I receive a response. 

2-18-2020 Diego is 4 days seizure-free. He has this oddly placed …. swelling? I’m not really sure what to call it or even better how it got to where it’s located. He doesn’t seem to know that it’s even there. He lets me touch the area …. he’ll let you scratch his tookus all day. It’s almost like a knot that you would get if you bumped your head, only this is off the back right point of his pelvis. I’ll keep monitoring it, it’s just weird that it showed up and even weirder the location. 

2-20-2020 Diego had bloodwork taken today to check organ function since adding Phenobarbital to his daily drug regimen. Fingers crossed everything looks good. 

2-28-2020 Diego is 14 days seizure-free! And got the results from his bloodwork. Everything is looking good. There’s a few values that fell outside the average range but Dr. H. assures me that these values are normal for a young growing puppy!! 

3-3-2020 Diego’s neurologist Dr. B. had a chance to review his most recent bloodwork and said, “I reviewed the CBC and chemistry profile sent over by VCA North country on 2/20/20. The CBC shows no evidence of bone marrow suppression. The chemistry profile shows a mild elevation in alkaline phosphatase (231) from phenobarbital and or zonisamide, but no evidence of liver insufficiency (albumin normal at 3.4). The elevated chloride is an artifact of potassium bromide therapy. Basically I do not see any significant internal organ damage from the anticonvulsants. As a reminder the goal should be to get Diego seizure free for 2 months or longer. Ideally I would like to see a patient seizure free for 6-12 months before reducing or eliminating any anticonvulsants. A recent study showed that patients who had good seizure control, where anticonvulsants were weaned and seizure recurred, had a significantly more difficult time recapturing seizures the second time. “

3-7-2020 Diego is 23 days seizure-free. I had an ah-hah moment today in the driveway while out walking Diego for a potty break and figured out how he obtained that swelling on his tookus. Diego is always leash-walked outdoors on a retractable leash. He’s not usually a leash puller but likes the ability to distance himself when he’s doing his business. Occasionally, he forgets or maybe misjudges how much distance he can have and walks to the end of the retractable leash. For most, this wouldn’t be an issue but for Diego, the sudden stop throws him off balance and he falls down landing on the hip where the grape-size swelling is located. He did this just now in the driveway and has acquired a minor scrape across the already swollen area. Now that I’m aware of this, I’m going to be more mindful and try to catch his attention or be there to catch him if he falls. 

3-9-2020 Diego has started to lose the fur on the underside of his neck. I have a call out to Dr. B. to see if the amount or combination of medications could cause this. 

3-10-2020 I heard back from Dr. B.’s office and he doesn’t believe the amount or combination of medications would cause Diego to suddenly lose his hair and suggested that I make an appointment with Dr. H. to look into this further. I’ve schedule Diego an appointment for 3/19/2020. 

3-15-2020 Diego is 31 days seizure-free!! In addition to hairloss on the underside of his neck, he’s losing hair on the backside of his ears, the outer part of his tail, and if you catch the light just right you can see the hair thinning out along his back. I also made a comment to my husband that he’s looking awfully chunky lately. I’m going to do a bit of research to see if there’s a senior version of the food he’s eating. He eats ~7.5 cups of kibble per day split between 3 meals. This is a decent amount for him daily, I’m sure he’d eat alot more than that if I let him. And he still acts like he’s starving. Anyways, if I can find a senior version (meaning lower calorie) I’m going to try mixing a cup of this into his meals. That way he’s still recieving the same amount of food, just not as much calories.

3-19-2020 Diego is 35 days seizure-free!! Today he had his appointment with Dr. H. Dr. H. performed a skin scraping to make sure he didn’t have any parasites like mites and took bloodwork for a thyroid panel. Scin scraping was negative however, the thyroid panel came back on the very low end of normal which unusual for growing puppy. Dr. H. said one of two things could be happening: (1) Diego could have hypothyroidism and require the use of medication (eeeecckkkk!!! Another pill!!!!! ) or he could be experiencing something called Euthyroid Sick Syndrome which is when another condition or illness is causing his thyroid to dip lower than normal causing him to appear hypothyroid when he’s really not. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Dr. H. about the ESS – it was crazy at the vet office today. But in order to determine what is happening, a sample of Diego’s blood will be sent out testing for Free T4. I will let you know once I have those results. 

3/21/2020 – Diego is on a hunger strike this morning. He’s done this once before. No rhyme or reason, just had a morning or two where he won’t eat his breakfast which is laced with ALL of his morning pills.

I have force fed him his pills and a bit of kibble only for him to vomit everything back up. If he has a seizure today, this is why. 

His food is always mixed with warm water. This morning I tried Parmesan cheese, water from canned chicken and a spoonful of wet cat food…. nothing, not interested. 

Today’s marks Day 37 of no-seizures. And this wouldn’t be so much of a concern but in order to start weaning him off some of these meds, he has to not have seizures for a significant amount of time. And refusing to eat (especially breakfast where he has the most pills) could really jeopardize that. 

Just an update on this….. 

Diego ate lunch and dinner without issue. And so far no seizures. Seizure free count continues 

3/22/2020 – And we’re back to not eating breakfast this morning. Peanut butter is a no-go. I even tried coercing him by mixing a few kibbles of a different food in. Nothing. 

3/23/2020 – So the good news…. Diego’s Free T4 is normal.  

The bad news …. Even though his Total T4 and Free T4 fall within the average “normal” range, it may not be normal enough for him. Dr. H is recommending that he be started on Levothyroxin. Since his appointment last week, the hair loss has continued to the creases of his elbows and has started thinning around his face. 

3/27/2020 – Email to Diego’s neurologist, 

“Dr. B ~

We really appreciate your help and input on this handsome guy. Since meeting with Dr. H last Thursday, Diego’s hair loss has continued to the back of his thighs (Pictures attached). He is exhibiting hair loss on the back of his ears, abdomen, inside of legs, outer edge of tail, neck, and now his face and thigh. At this rate, the poor guy will be bald before long. 

We recently had a Great Dane in rescue that exhibited similar symptoms (this Dane does not have epilepsy). His blood work also came back low but normal for Total T4 and Free T4. Despite his thyroid levels being normal, his primary veterinarian suggested we try a low dose of levothyroxine to see if it would alleviate his symptoms. In this case, it did! Could this be an option for Diego? Could we do a trial with Diego on a low dose of levothyroxine to see if it helps the alopecia?

P.S. In the last 85 days, Diego has had only one seizure (Feb 13th). Today marks Day 43 of no seizures in a row!! A new record for him!”

Dr. B’s response – 

“Sure. Go ahead and start Levothyroxine, at whatever dose Dr. Hill recommends. Watch for improvement in his dermatologic signs. Be sure that his total T4 does not become too elevated. Also watch for clinical signs of thyroid excess (panting excessively dominant increased thirst, weight loss, muscle wasting, anxiety/hyperactivity, restlessness, etc.).”

4/9/2020 – This morning is another morning where Diego is on a breakfast-food-strike.

 Today I’m going to do something drastic and remove his lunch all together. Days like today really send me into a panic because he’s on Day 56, we’re on such a long stretch it would be super-upsetting for it to be screwed up now. 

4/10/2020 – Diego refused breakfast and dinner today. Ideas? He’s peeing and pooping like normal. And he did try to regurgitate the pills I just forced him to take. Other than that no vomiting, no diarrhea. 

I’ve already cut back on each of his meals to ensure that he’s hungry for the next meal. He’s eating 2 cups in the morning and 2 cups in the evening. I took away lunch completely (he was getting 1.5 cups). Today I tried chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, cheese, yogurt. I even went as far as giving him some of his foster sister Rue’s food (knowing he may experience diarrhea) and nothing. 

4/11/2020 – He ate his breakfast this morning!!  Thank goodness. 

5/1/2020 – I had to take a last minute trip to Indiana this weekend and it was the first time I left Diego in the care of someone else. I wasn’t too concerned about Diego, he’s a mellow-fellow who loves everyone. What I was worried about was overwhelming the caretaker with Diego’s schedule. For me, it’s so routine – I complete it without giving it a second thought. Asking someone else to care for him is stressful to think about, even if it’s only for a few days. Luckily, for me Grammy was up for the challenge.

Her words of wisdom after Diego-sitting: “Honestly, Diego made it easy. You did a great job preparing me. I felt comfortable following his schedule as laid out.  I have a new-found respect for what you do every day because I wouldn’t be able to do this long-term and I’m not sure many people could.”

5/12/2020 – Many people are curious about Diego’s schedule, so I thought I would write it out for those interested. Here is Diego’s schedule:

5:45 am Potty break

6:00 am Breakfast – contains KBr, Levetiracetam, Phenobarbital, Zonisamide 

9:00 am Potty break 

10:00 am Levothyroxine

12:00 pm Potty break 

2:00 pm Levetiracetam 

3:00 pm Potty Break

5:45 pm Potty Break

6:00 pm Dinner- contains PBr, Phenobarbital, and Zonisamide 

9:45 pm Potty Break 

10:00 Levetiracetam & Levothyroxine

5/22/2020 – So Friday, May 22nd we had a traumatic incident with Diego. He is fine but it was scary.   My home was built in the early 1900s and still has many original items including the cast iron registers. This fool decided that he was going to galavant enthusiastically down my hallway and lodge one of his back inside toes in the biggest cast iron register cover I have!! Thank goodness my sister was here because it took three of us to work this out. While my sister stabilized the register (weighs about 10-15 lbs) and I held onto Diego (because he was freaking out), my oldest son put the other two dogs in separate rooms. After muzzling Diego (for safety) my son took over holding Diego, while I used one hand to gently pull on his foot and the other to gently push on the toe. The whole time, I’m panicking in my mind trying to figure out what in the world we were going to do if we couldn’t get his toe out. There was no way we were going to be able to get 130 lbs. Diego into the car with a 10-15lbs register on his toe. My plan was to call the fire department. And at that moment his toe came out . . . . WHEW!!! 

I’m in search of a more permanent solution so this doesn’t happen again, but for now we have a small area rug covering the register. Diego is fine, he was dramatically frozen on the floor for about 10 minutes but he has not experienced any residual swelling or discomfort. And he recovered without any ill-effects. . . .  AND I didn’t have to call the fire department. 

5/23/2020 –  TODAY is DIEGO’S 100th DAY SEIZURE-FREE!! Woot! Woot! And Diego’s brother Murphy got his care package today! Yay!! Diego and I put together a “to-brighten-your-day” package because Murphy’s been having a tough time gaining control of his epilepsy condition. While Diego exhibited his symptoms around the 16-20 week mark, Murphy didn’t exhibit his symptoms until ~10 months. I don’t have an exact count for Murphy, but I know he recently made it over the 30-day mark of no-seizures. Way to go, Murphy!!

5/29/2020 – (sigh) Diego is currently experiencing another food strike. The last time this occurred, I noticed a drastic color change in his poop – very dark and black (blood) & normal golden brown; during his food strike. The same thing has occurred during this food strike. There has been a bit of diarrhea that has been dark in color and has a very metallic smell. I have a message out to Dr. H about what steps may be needed to diagnose what’s going on, once I speak with him I will update everyone here. 

There’s something seriously internal going on  . . . . .

5/30/2020 – I dropped off a fecal and a urine sample this afternoon. 

6/26/2020 – Diego needs your help!!  After a 135-day stretch, Diego has had 3 seizures today. The last two occurring within 5 minutes of each other. His foster mom is on her way to the veterinarian with hopes that the vet can intervene and prevent any further seizures from happening. We anticipate that they’ll want to monitor Diego and run bloodwork to determine medication levels. Stay tuned for another update this evening.

To make a donation towards Diego’s veterinary care, please visit:

6/26/2020 – Diego was monitored for the afternoon by his veterinary team and I’m happy to report that he did not have any further seizures. They did take a number of blood samples to determine medication levels. Those results should be available towards the end of this week
For those new to Diego’s journey, Diego was born into RMGDRI and was diagnosed with Epilepsy at 4 months old. He receives a number of medications to manage this condition. And recently has been experiencing bouts of inappetance. It’s not uncommon for a dog to skip a meal especially when the weather is really hot. For Diego, skipping a meal is detrimental to his well-being. Many of the medications he receives, requires to be given with food. When he receives these medications on an empty stomach he often vomits. To help with the gastric upset, Dr. M has added Pepcid AC to Diego’s medication schedule.

7/4/2020 – Diego is doing great! He’s a week out from having a tough day of seizures (3 seizures in 7 hours after 135 days seizure-free). After consulting with his primary veterinarian, the emergency veterinarian prescribed the addition of Famotidine (acid reducer) to his medication schedule. Diego has been experiencing periods of not-eating as well as odd-smelling vomit and diarrhea that leads us to believe he’s suffering from acid reflux. Many of the medications Diego is on, disrupts his ability to digest his food like the average dog. Adding the acid reducer will hopefully limit the periods of not-eating. We’ve come to the end of the first week: so far, so good!

Now for the exciting news. . . . as many of you know Diego has suffered from seizures since he was 16 weeks old. And with the help of his veterinary team he is on a demanding schedule of routine and medication. But there’s still one question left unanswered. . . .  why? Why does he have seizures? An MRI is the only diagnostic that would give us this answer.

We estimate that this MRI would potentially cost $3000. We have had a donor come forward that’s willing to match donations up to $1500 towards this MRI for Diego. Which means we only need to raise $1500 !! Will you please donate?

7/6/2020 Diego’s become an office-dog! His foster mom has started a new position and Diego gets to go too! He’s done very well adjusting to the comings and goings of people & animals of all sizes. He gets to meet new friends and soaks up the attention from all who’s interested in meeting him.
7/13/2020 Do you ever come across some kind of food item that your dane is intense about?! For Diego, it’s Cheerios!! He loves all Cheerios but really goes crazy for the honey nut ones. I’ve started carrying them in my pocket to use as “treat encouragement”. I’m regretting that now because Diego can smell the residual left from the cheerios and is very pushy when he nose-punches my pocket. He’ll even throw a tantrum and stomp his feet when I tell him “All gone”. I’m going to try and get a video clip – too funny! In the meantime, I’ve added Cheerios to his Amazon wishlist:
7/20/2020 This is why Diego cannot be left unsupervised. I’m not really sure what he was trying to do here but he quickly found himself in a pickle! Luckily, I was able to assist him out of this predicament. 
7/24/2020 Since his seizures on the 13th, Diego’s phenobarbitol dosage has been increased. I’ve noticed that his back end often gets tangled up and he doesn’t have the muscle strength to correct it himself. This picture is the perfect example of what I’m referring to. Something as simple as standing in the yard, Diego doesn’t realize that his back leg is twisted. In this instance, it’s not an issue. But imagine having your legs tangle up while you’re trying to get off the couch or get out of the car – this would result in Diego crashing to the ground. His foster mom now travels with a padded help-harness, in case Diego needs assistance.  
7/30/2020 – Diego’s MRI is set!   
We want to say THANK YOU! to everyone who donated to Diego’s MRI fund and helped us out of a tight situation!  We met our goal and the Donation Match is on the way.
We have Diego scheduled for his MRI on October 27th
This is the earliest we could get on the schedule, but we are hoping it can be moved up if someone cancels.
7/31/2020 Diego had a follow up appointment scheduled this afternoon. It’s a bit overdue, he had finished his antibiotics a couples weeks ago, but this was the earliest we could schedule. He seems to have recovered from the bladder infection but now has a yeast infection in the left ear. It always seems to be something with the poor guy. 

8/1/2020 Today is pill-pocket day! Name brand Pill Pockets (especially the hickory flavored ones) are great! Diego goes through so many of them and the cost adds up quickly. To help reduce this cost, we often utilize a semi-moist premium dog food roll put out by Red Barn Naturals. It’s a fabulous alternative! It does require a little bit of prep work. But one 4-lb. roll of this, lasts a month whereas the large bag of Pill Pockets (containing 60 pill pockets) barely lasts a week. Diego doesn’t seem to notice the difference. 

8/30/2020 – Diego is doing pretty well. He is currently on Day 20 of no-seizures. He has gotten into the routine of going to the office with his foster mom a few days out of the week. He is often used as a dog and cat greeter – Diego is almost perfectly non-reactive for this task and does a marvelous job! Beyond that he can often be found snoozing away on the couch behind the front desk, with his stuffie-of-the-day in his mouth.

On a different note, his foster mom has started the weaning process with two of his anticonvulsant medications. This will be a slow and gradual process. So far, so good. 
8/30/2020 – Diego has been doing well! He’s adjusted to office life quickly and word has gotten out among the community that there’s a “horse” behind the desk at the shelter, that you just have to meet! When he’s not snoozing on the job (he does that a lot), he’s used as a tester for cats and dogs. We often don’t know how cats will do with a cat or how well a dog will do with another dog. Diego allows us the opportunity to test for those situations – he’s as non-reactive as you can get. We only have 22 days left until his MRI . . . 
10-27-2020 Today is the BIG day for this handsome fellow!!  
Diego is all checked in to Companion Animal Hospital at Cornell University and is patiently waiting his turn. . . .
Dr. L is leading his case at Cornell University and after reading through his massive book of veterinary history, she agrees that the next step would be an MRI. This will require Diego to be put under anesthesia, so they pulled a blood sample today and have Diego on the schedule tomorrow morning for the MRI. In addition to the MRI, they will also be collecting a sample of his spinal fluid for further diagnostics. 
Diego has already claimed his bed at the hotel and we’ll be up bright and early tomorrow. The hope behind having such a diagnostic done, is to shed light on the context or origin of why Diego has seizures. Could it be a brain abnormality sustained in utero? Is there a tumor, lesion, build up of fluid, etc.? Or is it something as simple as idiopathic epilepsy and this can be blamed on genetics? Stay tuned for the results . . . .  

10-31-2020 – On October 28th, Diego was placed under anesthesia to have an MRI completed at Cornell University Veterinary School of Medicine. This diagnostic revealed that Diego had a condition known as Polymicrogyria – a developmental disorder affecting the gyri (folds) on the surface of the brain. **Photo provided shows what this can look like in a human brain.**

This is considered a rare condition in dogs and can cause clinical signs such as central blindness, seizures, and other neurological signs. It is not thought to clinically progress, but seizure control can be more challenging due to any structural change in the brain.
Diego was also diagnosed with Ventriculomegaly or enlargement of the ventricles (fluid-filled areas of the brain). This is a nonspecific finding and could be a normal variant.
Huge THANK YOU goes out to Dr. L and her team for taking such awesome care of this big guy. And a special shout-out to Leslie for being his ‘person’ during his stay. Dr. L was impressed with Diego’s prescription arsenal and was supportive with attempting to wean Diego off of something. His foster mom is happy to report that Diego is 3.5 days without Levetiracetam (generic form of Keppra)!! So far, so good.

11-1-2020 – Diego had a seizure this afternoon. It almost went unnoticed. He will sometimes sulk to the bedroom when the kids get too rowdy or we vacuum the living room. I’m unsure of how long it lasted because I only caught the last 20 seconds of it. From what I saw, this one was pretty typical. He maintained bladder and bowel control. Overall, this episode seemed mild. His recovery lasted 2-3 minutes before he back up and moving again. 

His seizure protocol now requires that he receive Keppra three times a day for the next 48 hours. Dr. L would like to utilize this medication as the “cluster-buster” if possible. Keppra is the quickest acting but the least effective medication that Diego has. Theoretically, this would replace the Diazepam that he would take as an emergency seizure-stopper. 
11-12-2020 –  Diego completed the 48 hours of Keppra and is no longer taking it. So far, so good. His foster family has noticed some subtle changes in his behavior since discontinuing the medication. For instance, he has perfected the art of jumping on counters, the dining room table, and the dog gates. He is hyper-focused on every morsel of food that may be dropped or left behind. He acts like he’s starving (he gets 3 meals a day, plus treats!). His potty schedule is off as well. It’s interesting to watch how much more of his personality shines through when it’s not masked by a medication. 
11-23-2020 – Diego is 22 days seizure free!! And he’s on one-less anticonvulsant medication. That is one huge milestone right there! 
His medication schedule has gone from 5 times a day to roughly 2 times a day. I say roughly because he still has to get his thyroid pill on an empty stomach just before he eats. 
1-1-2021 – It Diego is 13 days seizure-free. He had a total of 12 seizures in 2020. The goal for 2021 is to have even less. 

Since receiving the diagnosis of Polymicrogyria ( & Ventriculomegaly), his neurology specialist removed the useof Levetiracetam from his daily drug arsenal. At first, we were reluctant to accept such a bold change. Since it’s removal, we’ve seen a number of changes with Diego. The biggest change has been solid poops! Through 2020, Diego was receiving tylan powder twice a day with his meals to help manage his bowel movements. The poor guy was incapable of having a solid stool on his own, but not anymore!

Another big difference is the nature of seizures. While Diego has experienced 5 total seizures post – MRI, these seizures have affected him very differently. And have been very minor compared to previous ones. I also think he’s more aware of himself, and can tell when he’s about to experience one. 
He had bloodwork taken last week (results pending) and Dr. H was blown away with the behavioral changes that he noticed right away. Diego trotted into the room and jumped onto the treatment counter in pursuit of the treat jar! All things Diego has never done before. 
Setting the medical aside, he continues to be the Diego everyone has come to love or hear about. He recently visited an adult home and the residents were amazed at his size and were impressed by his low-key demeanor. What’s not to love?!

1-30-2021 – Diego continues to be seizure free – 42 days and counting. He recently had bloodwork and a urinalysis completed. Everything came back great except his thyroid. For a Dane that receives a synthetic medication to maintain his thyroid level, this level should be higher and it’s not. It’s falling within the normal range but is on the very low end of normal. So we’ll be looking into this further over the coming weeks. I suspect that his dosage may need to be adjusted. 

Setting aside all things medical, this guy continues to be a goof. He’s the perfect couch potato who loves to burrow down in his pajama’s or under a blanket and snooze the day away. Don’t let him fool you though. . .  Counter & table surfing has become a regular thing for this mischievous guy. He has also attempted to chase after the cats – they are too quick for him though! 

3-01-2021 – Diego is 72 days seizure-free!! And still going strong. This is only the second time that he has ever gone this long without a seizure. He doesn’t handle the cold weather very well and is often found buried under a blanket or bunkered down in his pajamas. Yep, you read that right! Diego loves his pajamas. He throws a tantrum when I take them off to put them through the wash and he gets super-off-the-wall-excited when it’s time to put them back on. He continues to lose hair and we’re working with the veterinarian to figure out why. 

Diego’s 2nd birthday (& all his Brothers and Sisters from Destination Litter) is coming up! He will be 2 years old on March 31st. If you’re interested in buying this handsome fellow a gift in celebration of his birthday, we’d like to request that you purchase a Chewy eCards. Diego receives a number of medications on auto shipment from Chewy’s pharmacy and Chewy eCards are the most convenient way to help cover that cost. 
3-10-2021  It saddens me to report that Diego’s 81-day stretch of no seizures has come to an end. This seizure was visibly mild compared to others and seemed to affect him a lot deeper. It took a full 24 hours for him to completely recover. He spent most of that time in a deep sleep on the couch. The medication Keppra has been added to his pill regimen for the next 48 hours. 
3-14-2021  Diego experienced another seizure today. This one started in my presence. Diego had been snoozing away on the couch when he had woken up and acted like he was readjusting his position when he fell into an episode. So thankful I was there to assist, otherwise he would have fallen off the couch. Again, the seizure was visibly mild, shaking was mainly contained to the neck, head, and mouth. The rest of his body stiffened but there were no paddling movements and he maintained both bladder & bowel control. Keppra has been added to his pill regimen for the next 48 hours. 
3-18-2021  Diego experienced another seizure today, very similar to the last. He had been sleeping on the couch, this time he started seizing before he even woke up. Keppra has been started and a call to his Neurology specialist has been placed. 
3-27-2021  Diego experienced 2 seizures today 6 hours apart. The first seizure was pretty bad and required furniture to be moved to prevent Diego from harming himself during the seizure. On a scale of 10 (with 1 being mild and 10 being severe), I would rate this seizure an 8. Definitely, not the worst that we’ve seen, but pretty close. The second seizure was very brief, contained to the neck, head, and mouth. There was little to no recovery on this one. 
I followed up with the neurology specialist by phone as well as sent an email outlining the seizures that have happened. It absolutely rots that he’s had a total of 5 seizures in the month of March despite doing so well the previous months before. After chatting with the specialist about his seizure activity, a few changes have been made to the seizure protocol. Instead of receiving 1000 mg of Keppra three times a day for 48 hours after a seizure, he will now receive 2000 mg of Keppra three times a day for a week (in addition to his other daily meds).
4-1-2021  Today marks day 5 of no seizures for Diego. 
4-28-2021  Please send your positive healing thoughts to this guy! He is not doing very well at all. Over the last 16 hours, Diego has experienced four seizures.
After the second seizure, we consulted with the neurology specialist and developed a game plan. Despite using an emergency seizure medication (in addition to all of his other medication), Diego continued to have seizures #3 and #4. In an effort to stop the seizure activity as quickly as possible, Diego was rushed to the Emergency Room. He will be monitored closely over the next 24 hours, bloodwork will be drawn to see medication levels, as well as, determine if any of his other organs have been affected negatively. We’ll continue to post updates as information becomes available.

5-1-2021 Diego is home!! He experienced no seizures during his 24-hour monitoring period and has been sent home. The ER-vet has recommended that an appt. be scheduled with the Neurology Specialist. We’ll be working to get that scheduled.

Overall, a few things have changed with his  medication dosages and seizure medication routine. The hope is that these changes will help prevent Diego from experiencing further seizure cluster events.

6-2-2021  Overall, a few things have changed with his medication dosages and seizure medication routine. The hope is that these changes will help prevent Diego from experiencing further seizure cluster events. He’s back up to ~125 lbs and has adjusted well to the food change. His hair appears to be growing back too!

As of today, Diego is 35 days seizure-free! We’ve been taking it easy these last few weeks and Diego’s been enjoying soaking up the sun on the porch. We’ve recently started our evening walks again. Diego always starts the walk with a lot of energy but by the end he needs a lot of pep talk to get back home. 🤣
7-1-2021 — Diego is 62 days seizure free!  Overall he’s doing alright. For the most part, everything in Diego’s routine is the same. With the exception of meals – Diego’s been eating his meals later than usual. It has been exceptionally hot & humid and Diego just isn’t interested in food during the day. 
His foster mom has also noted some neurological changes in his walk and coordination. These changes are notably affecting his balance and mobility. He has a basic veterinary appointment scheduled tomorrow afternoon to assess these changes and has an appointment with the Neurologist July 22nd. 
To help with these changes, Diego will be introduced to the water where he will hopefully (fingers crossed) form a long-lasting positive relationship with hydrotherapy. Not only will this help with relaxation but it will also enhance lymphatic drainage, decrease inflammation, increase mobility and facilitate healthy joints.
7-31-2021 — Overall, July was somewhat tough for Diego. He experienced two relatively minor seizures 7/3 and 7/26. Both seizures were quick, roughly 30-45 seconds each, with about 5-10 minutes of recovery. The hardest part about his recovery is that he has this impulsive urge to trot around. It is even more challenging because the seizures affect his vision. Trying to keep a Great Dane from trotting into walls and furniture can be exhausting. Luckily, Diego has been fitted with a ‘Help em Up’ Harness, which has been a spectacular tool! While recovering from his recent seizure, the harness made it very easy to hold Diego in place and direct him in a circle and away from objects.

Diego also recently took a trip to Cornell University Veterinary School of Medicine for a follow up with the neurology specialist. This appointment served a dual purpose: the first as an annual follow up; the second to discuss the reflex changes that we have noticed day-to-day at home.

Diego’s general physical exam was within normal limits aside from patchy hair loss thought to be secondary to hypothyroidism and a small abrasion on his left paw. His neurologic exam revealed a dull and sedate mentation and general ataxia (slow staggering gait) which was worse than on his last exam. A complete blood count, chemistry panel, phenobarbital level, and bromide level were also performed.

His new incoordination could be a secondary side effect of all of his medications and/or a problem affecting his cervical spinal cord (C1-C5 myelopathy). The most common condition appreciated in young adult Great Danes causing a problem with the cervical spinal cord is Wobbler’s syndrome (cervical spondylomyelopathy). An MRI would be needed to definitively diagnose this condition. However, given his other abnormalities, it is unlikely that an MRI would change our overall plan for him moving forward.  Since Diego has been on this combination of medication for well over a year, it is more likely that Diego is suffering from something affecting his cervical spine. Empirical steroids such as prednisone can be used in acute flare-ups of Wobbler’s disease if he were to have more difficulty walking.

Other than his occasional challenging days, Diego is still a happy, loving and cuddly Great Dane.

8-30-21 –  Diego is 36 days seizure free.  His foster family recently moved to a bigger home with a bigger fenced in yard and Diego is living it up!  Often refusing to come inside when called and would much rather gallop around the yard running from everyone. He’s been enjoying taking naps in the grass and is totally content snoozing the afternoon away.

The help me harness is working marvelously. We do have to take it off for a few days every other week. The friction does seem to bother the insides of his legs.   Diego is still a happy, loving and cuddly Great Dane.
To make a donation towards Diego’s medical care, please visit:
To make a donation towards Diego’s veterinary care, please visit:

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Want to help Diego even further? Take a gander at his Amazon Wishlist:    Anything purchased from his wish list will ship directly to his foster home, just select Diego’s Amazon Wish list shipping address.

Thank you all for your support and continue to send positive, healing thoughts Diego’s way.

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