Today we reflect on the life of The Bumblesnot (aka Bumble) in our interview with Melissa. Many of you will know of Melissa's great work raising awareness and funds for senior and special needs dog adoption through Bumble's popular Instagram account @thebumblesnot.
Melissa adopted the eight year old Bumble from a local shelter in 2011. They spent the next six years together until he passed away in October 2017. During this time she learned a lot about life with a disabled dog as Bumble gradually lost the use of his hind legs, bladder and bowel function as a result of suspected Degenerative Myleopathy. Melissa kindly shares her story with us today.
Can you tell us about Bumble's disability?
Shortly after bringing Bumble home in 2011, he began dragging his back leg. Our vet ran x-rays, but they could not come up with a conclusive diagnosis. The x-rays did not show any tumors on his spinal column, but the vet said that he must have some nerve damage. We suspect it was from either abuse from his previous situation or possibly from years of jumping off the couch/bed or other high places. We will never know for sure. The closest diagnosis is that he had Degenerative Myleopathy, which is a pain-free progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs.
Regardless, the vet said that he could tell both rear legs were exhibiting mobility problems and that it would be a good idea for us to think about a dog wheelchair, since we were not going to put Bumble through any surgery. He had been through enough. At that point, Bumble was still able to walk a bit and stand on all four legs.
We went ahead and ordered him a K9 Cart, which helped him greatly. He took to it right away and enjoyed his walks and the added stability. Later in his life, he was unable to stand on his own or use his rear or front legs to walk. He eventually lost all mobility. He mainly used the cart to help prop him up during meals and for daily stretching (his exercise).
We also purchased a dog stroller for him. Bumble loved going on walks in the stroller, enjoying the scenery and fresh air. We had to carry him outside when he needs to go to the bathroom.
He needed to have his bladder expressed since he was unable to do so on his own. He had to be hand fed since it was difficult for him to eat from a bowl. Despite all his health problems, he was a very sweet and friendly dog until the last day of his life.
After more than 6 years, we helped our beloved Bumblesnot cross the Rainbow Bridge in October 2017. He was 14 years old. He had been ailing from an infection which quickly spread to his throat and mouth, then grew into pneumonia. His frail little body, combined with the ever-progressing Degenerative Myleopathy, could not fight it despite antibiotics and round the clock nursing. We did not want him to suffer. It was one of the hardest days of our lives.
Could you tells us what a regular day was like with Bumblesnot?
First thing, I'd prepare breakfast for Bumble and his canine siblings. Bumble and his siblings slept in individual crates. Each morning, I would take him out of his crate, give him kisses, then immediately take him outside to have his bladder and anus expressed.
Once that was done, I'd bring him inside and put him in his K9 Cart. Then I would hand feed him his Orijen Senior kibble, supplemented with pureed pumpkin, green beans, banana slices, coconut oil and kefir. I fed him with a plastic "fro yo" spoon, which was easier on his teeth. After eating, I'd clean off his face and wipe clean his nose ridge, then put Snout Snoother on his nose.
I'd clean out any goop from his eyes and give him saline eye drops in each eye, since he also had dry eye syndrome. Then I would hold up his water bowl to his mouth so he could drink. Somedays, he would drink an entire bowl. As he got older towards the end, I would have to give him water with a syringe, as he could not drink it himself due to the DM.
After his meal, I would let him stand in his cart for about 15-20 minutes to stretch out his legs and air out his belly. I would also wipe his underside with a baby wipe and dry as necessary. Then I would place him on his comfy towel atop the couch, where he loved to sit for the rest of the day.
My husband would be home in the early afternoon and would sit next to Bumble while watching TV. This was the highlight of Bumble's days. On my husband's days off, we would take all 4 of our dogs including Bumble on walks. Bumble would be pushed in his stroller while the others were on leashes.
Dinner would be served to the dogs at 3pm, so I would go through the same ritual then that I did at breakfast time. Bumble would also be expressed every 4 hours (7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and before bed around 930pm). We were fortunate that he did not "leak" and did not have to wear diapers. I was able to express him well enough that he did not have any accidents during the day or overnight. After "dinner" at 3pm and a clean up, Bumble would go back on the couch with my husband until he needed to be expressed and then finally to bed (in his crate).
What products, tips or tricks would you recommend for other people caring for a dog with a similar disability?
You will definitely need a dog wheelchair / cart for dogs with Degenerative Myleopathy. We bought ours from K9cart.com. A pet stroller is also wonderful when your dog cannot walk on his own any longer.
Cranberry Mannose-D daily supplements to ward off UTIs. Cosequin chewables for joint pain.
Keep a large stack of towels at hand for possible leakage, cleaning, etc. I did a load of "Bumble wash" every other day.
Snout Soother by Natural Dog Company is amazing and we use it every single day. It really helped Bumble's once crusty nose become smooth and healthy again. (Note: for a 10% discount use the code BUMBLE - all proceeds donated by Melissa to pet rescue).
Is there any other advice you would offer to someone caring for a dog with Degenerative Myleopathy?
Degenerative Myleopathy is not an immediate death sentence for a pet. There is no reason to put your pet to sleep just because he is diagnosed with it. Many pets, such as ours, live for many years. Degenerative Myleopathy Is PAIN-FREE, so the animal is not suffering. He just needs help doing things like walking, peeing, eating, etc.
It takes a lot of patience and care, but it is manageable. I did it for more than 6 years with an elderly Pug! Until the very end, Bumble never suffered and wasn't in any pain. As long as your dog is pain-free, still wants to eat and drink, and has no other health issues, then his quality of life is still there.
Find a vet who you trust and who has the dog's best interests at heart. If you don't like your vet, find another. This is the person whose judgement and advice you will be relying on for the rest of your dog's life.
If you want to keep the memory of Bumblesnot alive get yourself some merchandise from
www.zazzle.com/TheBumblesnot. All proceeds are donated to pet rescue.