This page is dedicated to my "brindle baby" who taught me so much (more) about Wobblers, my brave Doberman, Kenia, who started me on my quest for knowledge, and lastly-- and most importantly-- to "Sylly Sylvia" and her person, Christy, who helped me bring it all together.

Thank you, Christy and Sylvia, for saving Delilah's life!

Great Danes and Wobblers:

A Tale with An Alternative Ending-

Delilah's Story

 

There are excellent sites on the web dedicated to the discussion of wobblers, it's causes, and the available surgical treatments. My purpose for this page is to present an alternative to the traditional therapy. What I have documented here is a true story. I know that our God uses all things for good. So, I hope that our Lord uses Delilah's experience as an answer to YOUR prayers ALSO!!!

I got Samson and Delilah when they were just a wee little 7 weeks old. They were both in good health as were both their parents (i.e. no known genetic diseases). Samson was a big klutzy oaf, very sweet, but shy and sensitive. Delilah was, & is, much smaller and "petite" (if a Great Dane can ever be considered petite!) Her personality is one of vivaciousness and mischievousness. Her brother idolized the ground she walked on, and she, in turn, ruled him with an 'iron paw'.

Samson

5 months old

Delilah

5 months old

 

On May 19th, 1999, just after their 6 month "birthday", Samson wanted to play his favorite game of "Tag!" (which, due to his larger size, he always lost....much to his puzzlement). But Delilah, distracted by a crawly bug, wasn't paying attention. Sam, insistent bugger that he was, ran full speed and jumped on her. He landed on her back and knocked her flat! By the time I got to her (a split second later-- although it seemed like eons!) she was struggling to her feet. She was obviously in excruciating pain and could barely walk.

When we saw Delilah's vet, Dr. John Helmers, later that day, he diagnosed her as having wobblers. He said it was brought on earlier than normally seen due to the trauma that Samson had inflicted on her. I just died inside when I heard the diagnosis of wobblers. I'd been blessed to be "owned" by a beautiful, courageous Doberman named Kenia who had also developed wobblers. There was no Internet when Kenia was diagnosed, so the only options that we were given was medical (long term treatment with pain killers), or surgical. Kenia's vet thought she was too old for surgery, being 9 years old at the time, so we proceeded to treat her with long term prednisone therapy. She put up a valiant fight but, because of progressive deterioration and increasing pain, we ended up sending Kenia to "the rainbow bridge" about 18 months after her initial diagnosis.

Chaka
(background)
10/80-9/91

Kenia
(foreground)
6/86-12/95
Victim of wobblers

 

"Dr. John" (as Delilah likes to call her vet) put her on prednisone too, but he also scheduled us to see a canine orthopedic specialist. The specialist initially concurred with Delilah's vet and said she had wobblers and said he could help her with surgery. He did a myelogram in preparation for the surgery. However, after the myelogram, much to our surprise and relief, he decided that she had a "whiplash" injury and that she would get better with time. He put us on a weaning dose of prednisone and sent us home.

But instead of improvement like the specialist promised, Delilah continued to deteriorate. Within three weeks of her injury, she was completely lame on the left side. Her left rear foot had also gone completely flat. She could not move or change positions without squalling in pain. She ended up choosing to urinate in a lying position and would just lay there afterwards-in her own mess- in too much pain to move. She refused to eat and her normal sunny disposition changed so that she tried to bite whoever tried to get her to move/ eat/ etc.

No Position is Comfortable
Waiting for the Healing......

We kept in constant contact with Delilah's vet. He tried adjusting the prednisone and then tried adding Rimadyl. His notes from an exam on June 26th read "knuckling under left front paw. Unable to raise head without pain". Dr. John contacted the specialist again, who, oddly enough, refused to see us. The specialist suggested that we take her to Purdue University Vet School to see if they could do anything for us. We were devastated! But God was working and, as it turns out, this was part of his plan!

During the month that we waited for Delilah's "whiplash" to get better, I exhaustively searched the Internet to learn more about Wobblers. I canvassed innumerable sites: some helpful, some not. It seemed that all the sites that discussed treatment for wobblers only discussed surgical intervention. The information that I gleaned about the surgical treatments was dismal at best. I came to understand that IF Delilah SURVIVED the surgery, then the surgery was considered a success--never mind if she had any permanent disabilities! Common side effects listed for the surgery included: continued chronic severe pain, inability to stand, inability to hold her urine and/or stool. And they all recommended limiting the dog's exposure to other dogs to avoid further injury!! That was our life NOW!!! WHY would I put Delilah through surgery to have her even worse off????

I was determined that I could NOT put my sweet puppy through such invasive surgery and then have her still suffer afterwards. Her personality was too proud and active to deal with severe disabilities. Plus it would have been torture for both her and her brother to be kept apart from each other.

I made that HARD decision:
I had to euthanize my beautiful brindle baby!


I prayed to God to forgive me for making such a terrible choice and to take good care of my baby-dog, then scheduled her euthanasia appointment. But God's purpose for Delilah being on earth obviously wasn't done yet!

Tearfully, and without much hope, I still continued to search the 'Net hoping to find an alternative. With minutes of my prayer, I found a site I have not seen before! It was Sylvia's site, detailing her battle and TRIUMPH over wobblers! Her treatment was through an alternative treatment using a form of permanent acupuncture and a neck brace. What did we have to lose? Delilah was scheduled to die the next day!

I immediately contacted the vet listed on Sylvia's website, Dr. Terry Durkes. He listened carefully, asked a few questions, and answered me with 6 blessed words:
"I think I can help her!"

Like a golden ring...
around her neck...

When we saw Dr. Durkes three days later, he examined Delilah gently and thoroughly. He confirmed that she had wobblers. He also said he felt that one of her vertebrae was not only out of alignment, but twisted slightly as well, adding insult to injury. Then he spent time explaining wobblers to me and how the alternative treatments work to treat it.

He told us that the body has energy lines that run along certain "meridians". When these lines are disrupted they cause pain and disability. Acupuncture helps to repair the disrupted meridians, allowing the body to heal itself. While acupuncture generally helps for a while, the alternative treatment consists of implanting gold beads at the acupuncture points along the meridians. This allows for constant stimulation, instead of intermittent stimulation such as acupuncture provides. In addition, a cervical stabilizing brace is applied for three to four weeks allowing for support of the spine while the healing takes place.

Dr. Durkes told me that he estimated that 60% of the dogs he treats for wobblers using the gold beads and brace never need another treatment. Another 20% (approximately) need intermittent application of the neck brace through out their lives. I asked about the remaining 20%. He said he honestly didn't know. He assumed they were "non-responders" and that their owners went on to surgical intervention or euthanasia, but that he often didn't hear from the owners of dogs that don't respond. ..........HMMM.........was this a trick question? An 80% chance for healing!?! What did we have to lose?....... We decided to proceed with the treatment.

Delilah was admitted at 8:30 am for gold bead implantation, chiropractic adjustment of her spine and stabilization brace placement under anesthesia. When I picked Delilah up at 1:30 PM that SAME day , she was drowsy, and still in some pain, but obviously NOT in as much as when we arrived that morning. She walked under her own power to the car and I immediately noticed that she was no longer lame on the left! She was willing to support her full weight on that side!!

Within three days she was voluntarily moving about and seemed eager to spend short periods outside. She was still a bit reluctant to eat. Dr. Durkes had warned me that she would have to "relearn" how to eat as she'd been a "gulp" eater before her injury. The brace was-- and needed to be-- quite snug to provide the correct amount of support while her spine healed. Delilah now had to learn to politely NIBBLE her food! She made her opinion of this arrangement WELL known. (However, it didn't stop her from accepting choice treats and table scraps that her Daddy enticingly offered her!)

It feels better already!
Pillows are a comfort

The brace didn't seem to bother her at all. It was to remain on for three weeks. She quickly learned to change position without too much trouble. By the end of the second week she was initiating mild play with her brother. She was also returning to a favorite game of trying to chase tadpoles in a perpetual mud puddle in our drive. She was unable to duck her head low enough to catch any, but she had fun stomping in the water and scaring them anyway!

Playing outside was a favorite past-time, especially scaring the Tadpoles!

Due to scheduling issues, Delilah wore her brace for four weeks. By the time she had it removed, she was taking a daily half mile walk with no effort, eating normally and eliminating normally. Her disposition was generally back to her cheerful, upbeat personality.

"Come ON slowpokes!"

During the first year after Delilah's diagnosis of wobblers I noted continuous, slow improvement. Her activity returned back to pre-wobblers level. Her back foot that was flat is, for the most part, not flat anymore. I only notice some occasional 'flattening' when she is excessively tired. But with rest she returns to her current 'normal'.

She occasionally would plant her feet on my chest to get kisses, but she prefered that anyone desiring kisses duck to her level-- where she'd try to steal an earring if her victim is wearing any! The only residual signs that I noticed related to wobblers were: a) if she is extremely tired her left hind foot tended to flatten out some and b) she refused to walk across wide expanses of vinyl flooring- and still does years later. (She's fine on concrete, carpeting, wood decking and dirt/ grass.) She never has had to have her brace reapplied, although I have a removable one just in case.

She'd done so well with her recovery that we adopted two more danes in January and February of 2000--Rossi, from the local humane society, and Apache, who came to us from Hoosier Great Dane Rescue. Sweet Delilah was "QUEENIE" again, with two "bubbies" and one "sissy" to boss around, until my sweet Lord Jesus called dear Apache home to heaven on 2/25/02.

Tragically, Samson, Delilah's beloved brother, had to be euthanized a few years later on February 7, 2004 due to complications from a suspected brain tumor. Shortly after, we became aware of a needy 5 month old sweet Dane-boy named Rocco and adopted him from rescue on June 30, 2004.

Delilah's mission was renewed; she was to terrorize (... oh, I mean teach...) him the boundries of HIS (purposefully small) part of the toy universe. As life rolls, Rocco also was called home to the Lord on May 12, 2007. But I rest in the comfort that I will see them again when it's my turn to finally meet my savior face to face as promised in Genesis 9:5.

Samson
Delilah
Rossi
Apache
Rocco

The queen with the iron paw still rules!!

I have had the awesome opportunity to correspond with other dog owners that have elected to use the gold bead implants as treatment for wobblers. All of them have noted some sort of improvement with the alternative treatments they chose (acupuncture alone or acupuncture with the brace). However those that elected for the COMPLETE treatment ( gold bead implantation and brace application) have noted some degree of the same kind of healing that Delilah experienced.

As I reminisce about that first year, I wish that more than one of the sites that discusses wobblers would have presented an alternative to surgery. It would have shortened the length of time that Delilah would have suffered. Praise the Lord for Sylvia and Christy's web site! Hopefully Delilah's story will help other dog owners learn of this valuable information in time!

If your dog has been diagnosed with wobblers, it is NOT the end of the world. Check out all your options-- read about Sylvia's experience as well as mine. Call Dr. Durkes and talk with him--you'll find he is a very compassionate, caring man---- or better yet, take your dog and go to see him! You owe it to your beloved dog to learn what ALL your choices are in your "war" against wobblers!

Dr. Terry Durkes
(supplier of the Gold Bead/ Brace Therapy)
Western Avenue Animal Hospital, Marion, Indiana
(765) 664-0734

If you have questions, or just want to "talk" to someone whose been there, feel free to e-mail Delilah & me!
We'd love to hear from you!

Best wishes and you'll be in my prayers!
Joanne with Delilah & Rossi
all the while never forgetting those waiting at the bridge:
CoCo, Chaka, Kenia, Saavik, Apache, Samson
and Rocco ("Bubby")

E-mail Me!

Wobblers:
causes & treatments

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Delilah
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