ABOUT US: ARES AND HIS MOM
Hello! I am Ares' mom. I originally picked Ares out from a litter of pups in 2009 as a Valentine's Day gift for my now husband. As you read in his obit, he chose my husband. He hopped right into his lap - this little pointy eared pup with huge paws - and the rest is history.
I became very attached to Ares. He was very special; smart, athletic, multi-dimensional. I have never ever known a dog like him. He lived with our family in a number of places as our jobs sent us to different states every few years. He was my constant, my rock. I knew when he was about 5 or 6 that I was probably half way through his life and that thought saddened me profoundly even while he was healthy and with us. He was a big, big dog - about 100 pounds, tall, muscular - the life span on larger dogs just isn't long enough. I was very hopeful we'd have him until 12. I never heard of degenerative myelopathy (DM) but I remember being relieved when he was young that his parents were hip dysplasia free because that was the disease I heard was common in german shepherds.
During a vet visit for a cyst he had, the vet noticed his gait and mentioned degenerative myelopathy. Ares was 8 at the time and we noticed him bumping into us more but thought he had gotten clumsy with age. I scoured the internet for information on DM and I felt like I was run over. It was terminal, it was horrible. I reached out to a friend who is a vet as well and spoke with him more, giving him the symptoms and learned as much as possible. At that point, the clumsiness was pointing towards him being near the end of Stage 1 (there are three stages); prognosis was about 6 months to live. This was July 2018. I did the genetic test (which is kinda iffy), he had two copies of the gene associated with DM which meant "high risk." This means both of his parents had the gene and he had a 50/50 chance of it being DM. I knew that's what it was anyway but this further confirmed what two vets had told me.
I cried and cried and cried, day after day. As defeated as I was, I am also a fighter so I started to look into everything I could do to help. I found some very helpful information - Dr. Clemmons is sort of the godfather of DM in German Shepherds - I implemented his diet, I added supplements, I tried chiropractic treatment on Ares, I sought out clinical trials. Unfortunately, Ares had to have surgery for his cyst removed and I wasn't comfortable putting him through an MRI for one of the trials and the other required a prior MRI.
It didn't matter. By December he was basically immobile. I was so fortunate to be gifted a pair of wheels by a great organization called Joey's PAW but Ares didn't take to them. We tried often but they stressed him out and made him shake. We kind of knew that would happen - he was too proud and a bit of a scaredy cat. By Christmas I knew I was on borrowed time with him and by March of this year I knew we were close. I don't know if we waited too long to say goodbye to him but I do know it wasn't too soon.
I had such a difficult time dealing and he was just so important to me I felt that there wasn't a big enough way to honor his memory. I have his ashes, and pictures in our house but he deserved so much more. The memory of him needed to be shared and needed to live on. I knew if I felt this way, so did others. I created this website for the dog lovers who don't know where to grieve - we feel like other people don't understand since our pet isn't a human. I created this site so you can all share your beloved dog's memory and have it be honored the way it should be. I also created it to connect the dog lovers - in good times and bad. I really hope the forum helps bring you all together.
This website is free for all of you. Once you submit your story, I will email you and ask for photos of your dog. From there, I manually input each dog and the accompanying photos. Sometimes it will take me a day or two depending on my access to a computer (I have a crazy toddler too), but I will share your dog.
I set up a link to a paypal account for donations. The donations will be split 3 ways this year - 1/3 to the costs to run this website (hosting and web maintenance), 1/3 to Joey's PAW and 1/3 will go to the Morris Animal Foundation who is currently funding two studies to help solve diagnostic and treatment challenges for Degenerative Myelopathy.
With time, I will change out the receiving organizations that get the 2/3 of the donations.