Home Bones's Story

Bones, as we know and loved him by, has had an exceptionally difficult start to life. Read on to understand the real story.

Bones at just under three months of age. Bones, at the 2001 Canberra Royal Show.
Bones's first Christmas. Bones, at the 2001 Royal Melbourne Show.

Kate has been asked several times to write down what happened to Bones and his life. She has finally taken up the challenge.

Bones was born on the 26th of March 2000, one of a litter of eight. He was part of an IID (Imported In Dame) litter. The first IID litter in Australia. His father, CHAMP V. HAUSE ZEMP lives in Switzerland with Markus Zemp. His mother, ANI. V. HAUSE ZEMP was sent to Kaitler Kennels while she was pregnant.

When he was 2 days of age Kaitler rang us to check that we definitely wanted his tail left on. The answer was yes. So Bones was ours from the time he was two days old. At five weeks we got another call; the vet had picked up a suspected heart murmur. We would wait and see if it was still there at his eight week check up. At eight weeks he was cleared of any problems.

He was sent via aeroplane to us at 14 weeks old. He and his sister, "Heidi" survived the flight with no problems at all. Next day it was off to the vet for an introduction & checkup. Our vet, Derek, fell in love with him on the spot. However, he could hear a heart murmur. So it was the first of many visits to the Werribee/Melbourne University Vet Clinic (Melbourne's only teaching/research vet clinic). Yes, they too could hear the murmur.

Next step was an X-Ray and ultrasound. To do this they had to administer a general anesthetic to my four month old baby! They also had to shave just behind his front legs. The top canine cardio-vascular vet in the country did the ultrasound. They even showed us the ultrasound.

The results were that it was not a heart murmur! Lots of celebration about that one! What it was, and still is, is a growth in his aorta leaving the heart. It is a piece of skin, sticking out into the aorta which flaps when his heart beats. We got a 99.9% guarantee that it is not genetic - he could father puppies and not pass it on. It was just one of the oddball things mother nature throws up occasionally. As he grew older, the murmur has become harder to hear. The flap of skin has stayed the same small size while the rest of him grew. It is not and will not ever be an issue for him.

I guess that you think that his story ends here right? WRONG!

After being put through all this - and wearing his wonderful shaved patches which took forever to grow back - we got about four months of peace. Then when he was six months old we came home one sunday night to a GP who could barely move to come and greet us!!! This, compared to a dog who previously had tried to tongue kiss us on our return! (ie jump up to head height for those not familiar with GP's). Panicky calls to the breeder and Werribee/Melbourne Uni Vet Clinic and we were in the car at about 11pm that night. The vet on duty examined him. The moment she tried to turn his head there was a very loud yelp.

Diagnosis - suspected meningitis. We are standing there thinking that we did not know dogs could even get meningitis!

Bones was put in over night and we were told to call the next morning. We figured out that they did not expect him to live. Very few dogs survive meningitis. The causes of it are not known - as in humans. Three very anxious days later we bought him home; alive! Very weak, very sore and now forever refuses to have drops squirted into him mouth!

He had a shaved patch from between his ears all the way down his neck. The vet had to to do a spinal tap to confirm that he had meningitis and then try to figure out which he had: Viral or Bacterial! If it was bacterial he would not have survived. It is usually 100% fatal. He had viral. Still very bad, but less likely to be fatal.

When he came home he was kept (and wanted to be) very quiet for about three months. He was on a form of steroids (not the anabolic ones that athletes take) to treat the disease for six months and antibiotics for three months.

Two days after coming home, Chris's grandfather died and we had to go to Wollongong in New South Wales. We did not want to leave such a sick dog with a fried, so Derek, our local vet, took him for four days. He became the 'trophy' of the clinic. All of the nurses and other vets loved him. He behaved beautifully. Being so sick he slept most of the time. They kept up his medication and at one point put him on saline because they were worried. He had incredibly good care taken of him. When we picked him up there was no charge! We are very lucky to have such a great local vet! He had improved enough to walk to the car and make it very clear it was time to go home!

We were told to give him heaps of time to recover, and we did. But it became obvious that his temperament had changed. He had previously been bullet proof and loved dogs and humans. He now wanted space from dogs. Because it hurt him we needed to be careful when handling him.

This led to lots of research via the internet and people in the dog world. We found that of the few dogs that survive meningitis, many are put down afterwards due to developed aggression problems - which was what we were facing.

Traditional medicine could not give us an answer. They said he was recovered. By 14-18 months we started to get desperate. We did not want to put him down after going through so much. Also, that would be punishing him for brain damage (as humans get from meningitis) that he had no control over. A friend finally recommended an animal communicator and also cranio sacaral work.

At first we thought it was B. S. hocus pocus. But with Bones, the way he was (and we had Kira by now) what did we have to loose? We started treatment when he has 18 months old. By the time he was two the improvements were amazing. He will never be the way he was. But today he is fine with people and OK with dogs, as long as they are not in his face. He will walk past and through crowds of dogs without a problem.

When he was two we sat down and seriously thought about breeding him. We had avoided it to date where we could, but it was decision time. We decided that we could not ever breed with him. In some breeds meningitis is thought to be hereditary (reference: internet) and so with so few GP's, why risk it? So at two we has desexed. Desexing him has further calmed him down.

Today he is two and a half years old. He still suffers back and neck pain which we treat we monthly visits by Phil, a cranio sacaral specialist. He has a good quality of life and is greatly loved. He has always been and still is an incredible survivor. He never once gave up - even when we had almost given up on him!

We love him for what he is now. What might have been is unknown. We have him here and now and will always be our first GP - and the dog that got us so involved in GP's as pets, showing, obedience and now breeding.

- Kate

Bones' pain did continually get worse. On January the 31st 2003, Bones was put to sleep. He was ready to go. We miss him dearly.

This is Bones as we remember him, as the pet that we originally wanted.

A typically intense look for Bones. Bones & Kira
Bones, ever the people dog. Just keeping Kate company. Just Bones.

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