July 31, 2019:  It is with great sadness that we said goodbye to our youngest permanent foster, Oliver. Oliver has been taking Keppra to manage his seizure activity. It seemed to be helping with the frequency of the smaller ones but every once in a while he would have a big one. Those were exhausting, but he would recover and be back to his old-young self. Lately, there had been slow deterioration but we sure thought we would have him much longer than this. He was only two years old.

Last night, Oliver experienced a seizure that was well beyond anything we had witnessed before and was rushed to the emergency vet. His temperature was so high they could not even get a reading on him and their attempts to lower it were ineffective. The vet was worried about the affect it would have on other organs. It was time to say goodbye. His loving foster family was present, and he seemed to recognize his foster mom’s presence and voice. Oliver’s story is just heartbreaking. 

Many, many thanks to Jim and Donna Alpner for loving him, and the special accommodations to make sure he assimilated into their pack.



Oliver’s Journey:

Oliver is a sweet, two year old golden/husky mix.  1½ years ago he was adopted from the shelter. In February of 2019, just 16 months after that adoption, he suddenly lost his sight. His family took him to the vet for an examination where further testing into specific causes was recommended, but no follow up care was administered.  Oliver remained in his home for a couple more months, then was returned to the shelter.

Click here to see the video of Oliver at the shelter.

As rescue partners, SCGRR was contacted for a medical exit.  Oliver was so overwhelmed with yet another transition, he didn’t eat or drink for his first two days in foster care. Each day he relaxed a little bit more and  started exploring parts of the yard and inside spaces. We know he is completely blind yet amazingly, he has not bumped into anything. He seems to sense when he gets close to something. He was slowly  introduced to the resident dogs, and Bomber the tortoise.  All give Oliver his own space.  

Click here to get a peek into Oliver’s first week in foster care. 

May 15: Oliver’s first visit was to an ophthalmologist as recommended by the vet back in February.  Oliver was pretty nervous and the exam was difficult at times but from what the vet could see, he has a normal reaction to light, the retinas and optic nerves all look normal, and there is no evidence of cataracts or damage to the cornea. We were referred to a neurologist as the next step in diagnostics.

May 20: Oliver was seen by a neurologist. Thorough examination supported by the limited history we could provide, narrowed possible causes but further testing is required.  Oliver is scheduled for a MRI and lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to perform a cerebrospinal fluid analysis on Saturday, June 1st.

Can you possibly imagine what it would be like to suddenly lose your sight completely? As if that doesn’t turn your life upside-down, then to be shuffled to strange places with new sounds, smells, and people. Oliver is coping, and everyday gains a bit more confidence.  He is in a loving foster home, calm and quiet surroundings, while being cared for by patient, loving foster parents.

Update May 22, 2019:  Oliver had a seizure last night. Fortunately his foster mom was able to video this so we could send it to the neurologist. His appointment has been bumped to tomorrow. He will go to the hospital for a MRI, CSF analysis (lumbar puncture), and PCR panel, where the the fluid will be tested for distemper as a possible cause.

Update May 31, 2019:  Oliver had been exhibiting certain twitches, movements classified as “fly-biting” and “gum chewing” both indicative of neurological problems. He suffered a long seizure, which caused us to bump up his impending MRI to 5/23. Fortunately, his foster mom was able to catch some of it on video so the neurologist was able to view it, rather than rely on description alone.

The results of the MRI were immediate and not great news. His brain has deteriorated, atrophied, like the brain of a very old dog. Initially we were concerned that his loss of vision was due to optic neuritis, secondary to another condition such as encephalitis caused by infection or immune mediated diseases. No inflammation was noted on his MRI and his spinal fluid was clear…no infection.  Another possible cause for these symptoms was distemper, despite his immunization history from 2017. A sample of his CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) was sent for analysis and the PCR test came back negative…not distemper.

This leaves us testing for metabolic storage diseases, which are typically genetic but rare. While we cannot reverse what has happened to poor Oliver, we will hopefully find an answer.

Oliver is now on anti-seizure medication and there was a notable difference immediately. The twitches described earlier are much less frequent and shorter duration. He has not had another seizure.

Update June 13, 2019:  The results of Oliver’s recent test do not support a diagnosis of metabolic storage disease. This is where we stop looking for answers as they would not lead to further  treatment. Oliver is an enigma and it frustrates our veterinary partners to not be able pinpoint the cause of his condition which would give us as information on what to expect for his future.

For now, it is quality if life for this unfortunate pup so we just need to watch for signs of further decline.  Oliver is getting along well in his foster home and went for his first outing (walk) last week. 

Update June 25, 2019: 

Oliver had another extended seizure just four days ago. While not as intense as the last, it lasted about as long. Oliver is currently on Keppra which appears to be helping.

This sweet pup has become the most recent member of our permanent foster program. Having acclimated as well as can be expected to his new surroundings, the layout being perfect for him as well as the overall vibe of his new family, Oliver will remain a part of the SCGRR family for the rest of his life.