What it is like living with a fitting dog...........

Round Robin Mag  (ISDS BE/328292) / Round Robin Mac Gyver (NHSB 2969720)

(MaQ) - Owner Ankie Houthuis

MaQ, pronounced as Mack (I have something with the Q, all my boys names start with the Q but since he knew his name already I put the Q at the end of his name), came to me very unexpectedly at a sheep-herding trial (which Quando and I went to), when he was 12 weeks old. He is my third Border Collie and second one with epilepsy. He is a lovely sweet boy with an enormous will to please. Of course I didn’t check the background in his lines as I didn’t want a pup yet. After my first Border Collie ‘Quickstep’ having epilepsy I really should have. I followed the litter through a friend who had already reserved his litter brother and I knew she did the health checks and checked the lines for epilepsy. Since there is hardly any line free of epilepsy these days, the known epileptic dogs in the lines were minimal. As it turns out we both ended up with an epileptic dog. MaQ’s litter brother has epilepsy too, their sisters are, as far as I know, free of epilepsy.

 

We started training UK Obedience and Sheep-herding and have been doing so ever since, only for fun. I have to take in account that he can’t concentrate and move like a healthy Border Collie. There is some brain damage after several cluster periods. He always had trouble controlling his backside and to get better control we started doing Balance and Coordination lessons. In Sheep-herding we switched from the ISDS Collecting Style to FCI Traditional Style because of his epilepsy. The fields in Traditional Style are fenced and you also work close by your dog and sheep. Something to take in account in case he has a seizure and runs off.

 

MaQ was 5 and a half when he had his first seizure. I immediately knew I had my second one with epilepsy, the first one was Quickstep. So after all the tests it came out idiopathic epilepsy. Except for this he is a very healthy boy.

I look after his raw meat diet, exercise, and everything that might trigger him in a seizure. I used to have both my boys (Quando and MaQ) in the same space when I travelled but since the first seizure they travel separate, each in a crate. They (now only MaQ as Quando was pts last December) went on camping trips, shows, trials and everything we’d like. We are sooo lucky we are still able to do all the fun stuff, we only had to adapt a little. It could have been quite different.
When we are camping (with a campervan) he sleeps with his harness on. In case of a seizure I only have to clip on a lead and take him walking. Luckily he has only one trigger I found and that was the ring on my cellphone. So I changed it to a tune and he has no problem since. The seizures he had I could not trace to something causing it, except the Rabies vac., after which he clustered for several months.

 

It took me a couple of years to get him stable. He had several cluster periods but since the homeopath changed his homeopathy, he is very stable. Next May he is one year seizure free. He is now 8 years. Each seizure takes a lot of energy. Not only for him but also for me. I have to walk with him till he shakes it off. Sometimes I don’t sleep for 24 hours or more.

Next to his diet MaQ takes a lot of medication and supplements. He has the regular Phenobarbital and further CBD-oil, MCT-oil and Homeopathy. I really found the homeopathy very helpful since that is the only thing that gets him out of a seizure very fast and also keeps him seizure free for a longer time.

 

We have adapted to his problems and it is always on my mind. He sleeps next to me and I am awake at every suspicious move he makes. His world is my world and in everything we do I have to take his epilepsy into account. ‘Don’t forget the medicine’, not when we go camping, training or even on a walk. I have a camera on the place he sleeps when I am at work. I even had to come home from work a couple of times when I saw him in a seizure (luckily I am able to do that).
The world changes when you have an epileptic dog. You have to plan things ahead and you need to be able to adapt to your dog. It is also very costly; all the medication, supplements, blood-tests every 6 months and may be you can’t do the things you planned with your dog. In my case I had to switch to Traditional Style Trials for his safety but I am very lucky I can get do the things I like with him, may be not at the level we wanted and he was good enough for, but we still have fun. I always have to watch that he doesn’t do too much as he keeps going on.

If you have a fitting Border Collie and know the pedigree, get him/her on the database to help others with the info. If you know of any testing for DNA, donate blood and info of your dog as I did. It is so needed to stop the epilepsy in the Border Collie. It is a terrible disease and we desperately need a DNA test to prevent it going further. The database is a very good help but it is only the tip of the iceberg.

MaQ is a great boy and I love him to bits. Even if I regret he has epilepsy, I never, ever regret taking him home.


He is my sweet boy.

Ink Credible (Ink) - owner Dawn Greer

Ink was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy in August 2021 just before his 3rd Birthday. Since then my life has changed dramatically. I take Ink almost everywhere I go as I’m terrified to leave him, I watch him like a hawk day and night, the monster of epilepsy is NEVER out of my mind. I don’t sleep properly and it’s so hard to make any plans because if he has a seizure then we will not go anywhere for at least 24 hours after, in case he has another as cluster seizures are common.

I have had great support from Siobhán Owens who is also going through this and we felt it was important that there was more awareness of this disease.  The fact is no one can fully understand the impact unless you’ve lived through it, unless you’ve watched your dog have a seizure and be able to do so little to help, terrified they are going to die, praying it will stop soon, crying your eyes out. I too have been through this before, twice. When I was a teenager we had a beautiful Great Dane who had epilepsy, it was heartbreaking to watch and she died at age 8. Then when my Jess was 12 she started to have seizures. One morning on a walk she just dropped down and started paddling. She had seizures until she died age 14. 

Ink had a bad seizure early one Sunday morning so in discussions with my vet we are looking at altering dosages or changing his current medication. Epilepsy can be particularly hard to control in Border Collies as well. There is no one size fits all to this, it doesn’t go away and he will be on medication for life. Along with the life changes like not being able to go anywhere is the expense of monthly medication too and we are talking hundreds. He currently gets his meds at 6am, 8am, 2pm, 8pm and 10pm every day which is also very life limiting in that I have to be with him at those times every single day.

Now for those of you who like to go out and have dinner or lunch, to the cinema, theatre etc, imagine the impact on your life? I am trying to keep his life as normal as possible but to add to our complications he is a fearful dog and absolutely terrified of the vet so in order to get a blood test the last time he had to be sedated, this again hugely limits our options as I won’t put him through that on a regular basis. But I will not stop fighting for my boy. We will try everything to keep his life as normal as possible and as long as he’s happy that’s what matters.

As Siobhán rightly says, ‘epilepsy is the devil’ and I hope that none of you reading this ever have to go through it

Drac at Carfeld (Drac) - owner Yvonne Carpenter

This is Drac.

He was diagnosed with IE nearly nine years ago. He successfully competed in WT until early retirement and now competes in SWUK. He captivates everyone who meets him. He's charismatic, manipulative, a thief of food and toys, and I love him to pieces. 

This is my life though - I live every moment knowing that next time he goes into status ellepticus I may have to watch him die. I don't just have to think about his epilepsy once a day - he gets essential meds every eight hours. I can't risk him missing a meal- that will trigger a seizure. Everywhere I go (including daily walks), I have to take emergency meds with me in case he goes into status. He can't be left alone for more than 20 minutes in case he goes into status. Every time we leave home we have to plan to make sure we've enough meds and food for however long we're going to be away. This doesn't even touch on the financial aspect of spending thousands of £s on medication, blood tests, emergency veterinary care, etc.

I live with the knowledge that statistics say it's likely that he will go into continuous seizures and that's how he'll die. I also know for a fact that there are Working Trials and Obedience dogs NOT yet on the database. I suspect there are also breed dogs not on there.

Border Collies are getting an international reputation for one of the breeds to avoid because of epilepsy. 
STOP BEING IN DENIAL. Get your dogs, dams and sires on the database