Conner came here with his litter brother and sister in September, he was the same size as them and the only signs all was not well was the way he wobbled a bit when he walked showing a weakness in his left leg, he was short in back, stocky, healthy looking coat and at first I suspected nothing was really wrong, he ate well and i noticed the others bullied him a bit.. he got slowly worse whilst he was here, and spent a lot of time sitting down, when his owners picked them up they noticed a real decline in him, they rushed him to an old breeder here in the Midlands who had never seen a puppy like it and they decided it could be vaccine damage as before he came to me they were all vaccinated as ofcourse they were to mix with my dogs.
I went to a seminar ran by puppy vaccination programme and was told it was highly unlikely, as potentialy dangerous elements are not licensed for use in this country.
I went to the United States of America for the Nationals and asked questions and the condition of hemi-vertbrae was explained to me, I realised that it was this condition Conner had.I got lots of information about it from the www. and from very knowledgable breeders I shared it with Conners owner/breeders their vet was saying he thought either neurological damage or muscle weakness.
He was started on Steroids just 2 a week and he stabilsed.
Then once again they asked me would I look after him while they went away for Christmas, what was supposed to be 2 weeks turned into 5.He came with his litter mates and we gave him a lot of love and by now he was visibly smaller than the others,I took him to my vet as he developed cherry eye and my vet assured me he was not in pain but he agreed he looked typical of hemi-vertebrae as the information I had got I took with me. We didn't know what to do with him, someone told me about a vet in Redditch so off I went and as soon as he saw him he confirmed my worst fears, not only was he hemi-vertebrae, he had severe hip dysplacia, no knee on one leg ,was dwarfed. had a hernia and only one testicle. He had a strange look to his face his eyes seemed too much on the side, he had a heavy short neck due to his body trying to carry his weight in the front end .However this vet had hopes his hips could be helped by a small op. and it was arranged Conner could return in a few months for surgery.
At this point the owners of him admitted they didn't know what to do with him they came and collected the healthy pups and left Conner here as my son expressed a wish to give him a special pampered home, as James was bought up with the bulldogs they thought this was best for him and I kept him here until my son could travel up from Cornwall to pick him up.
In the meantime I discovered there were other pups with this condition, people phoned me and told me their experiences of the condition, the vet in Redditch had seen 12 pups in this condition in various stages of disease.. some chronic some just mildly affected in 12 months, this is not a one off..the litter mate of Conners mother was put down at 9 months with paralylasis.......this is an congenital condition......it comes from the screw tail/and the short back in these breeds, pugs, boston terriers , french bulldogs..its visible on many Xrays and it sometimes causes no problems at all , however mated to other sufferers can cause this tragic scenario, some pups show no detrimental signs till they are 5 or 7 months old....already living in their pet homes and much loved pets.......
like poor Conner...
I looked after Conner and my son paid his vets bills and he bought him a new cage as he liked to go in a cage, he got him toys and a harness.
I decided to show Conner to many breeders and he was much traveled, we went to Cumbria to a very knowledgeable lady Mrs Rene Blacklock who has had several of these poorly pups to look after .
I was shocked to see the one she had there...'Terry' was far worse than Conner appeared, he was flat on the floor and moved like a seal he was dwarfed too, but was well looked after and had X rays and had been examined by the best Vets in the North and when he died he went for research, and when his carer decided his quality of life is gone he was put to sleep.
He had never been up on his legs so knews no other life, I took Conner everywhere with me the idea being the more people made aware of the condition the better for the breed,
I conversed with the Genetics expert from the Animal Health Trust here in the UK he is concerned about the outcome as so far the gene responsible has not been defined so there is no test as such for it ,his opinion is short backs in the bulldog are likely to have trouble with this condition.
James came to get Conner and his family loved him he settled well and then James told me he seemed depressed then, he seemed to be struggling to get up on his front legs, he went to the vet and it was diagnosed he had ruptured a disc in his shoulder blade area...pain killers were given but an Xray was planned for next day.
When the Xray was done we were totally unprepared for the condition of his spine the vet said he had never seen anything like it before it had so many malformations and his hips had no sockets at all, he said there was no hope for any quality of life as the discs would rupture one by one and he would be in severe pain everytime, it was reccomended we let him go and our heartbreaking decision had to be made..so poor James had to go to hold him after just 12 days of having him and say goodbye................
PS Im very proud of James who not only took on Conner he even after the above experience took on Mina who he did have time with ,hes been very hurt by owning this condition but he knows from first hand how awful it is .