65% Bull Terrier is not enough!


Most of you that have been showing in the last few years will know Connie (Aust CH Stardom Black Diamond ROM) the smallest member of the bully touring crew.

If you are one of Connie’s many friends or ever laughed at her antics in or out of the ring or perhaps even admired her, please take five minutes and read her story.

On the June long weekend just passed Connie luxated, suddenly and completely in her left eye. On Sunday morning Connie had a slight discharge and a slightly ‘sore ‘eye. On closer examination nothing apparent was obvious, so though feeling uneasy I left for work. I was able to return home to check her and she had deteriorated dramatically. Connie was vomiting violently and a bluish cast was visible in the corner of her eye. She was distressed, I was distressed. My vet was already out on an emergency call so it was late afternoon before he was able to see her. At the surgery he confirmed that Connie was indeed in a serious condition. Not only had she luxated but she already had developed glaucoma. She was now in real danger of losing an eye and all in a matter of hours.

 Protocol was established to reduce pressure in her eye, relieve pain and to stop her vomiting as this was only going to increase the damage to her eye while we searched desperately for an ophthalmologist available on the long weekend. It was 21/2 hrs before we received a phone call to say  Dr. Mark Billings on the north side of Sydney would make himself available to treat her. Gracie (Connie’s only real doggy friend) and my long suffering partner Mick were thrown in the car for the trip to Sydney. With Connie vomiting intermittently through out the 51/2 hr trip we arrived at SASH at 1am with a sad little dog, dehydrated obviously in great pain and with her eye visibly worse.  She was immediately admitted to ICU with Mark on the phone directing treatment to try to stabilize the eye while he drove back to Sydney to treat Connie. As   3am is not the best time to locate a motel even with the vet staffs help, Mick Gracie and I tried to get a few hours sleep in the car.

Monday morning at 6am and Connie who is receiving methadone for the pain is unhappy but managing. Her eye is worse. Normal pressure for the eye is 30 the pressure in Connie’s eye is still rising; it is now above 70.Permanet damage is inevitable. There is nothing to do but to leave Connie at the clinic and drive home. By late afternoon the pressure is 91 despite all efforts and discussions take place with Mark about our options

  1. Remove the eye immediately. Pros of this are the pain is relieved immediately and it is the cheapest option. If I want to spend more money I can have a prosthetic implant done. The cons, genetic PLL is ALWAYS bilateral. If we remove this eye and the other eye luxates in the same way I’ll have a blind dog and will Connie cope or want to cope with blindness?
  2. .Operate immediately while the eye is ‘hot’ to remove the lens but the outcome under the circumstances is not promising and we don’t even know if there is sight in the eye to try to save.
  3. Continue medication to try to bring the pressure down overnight and allow Mark to try to determine if Connie will have any sight in the eye. If  there is  a possibility the operation has the best outcome done when the eye is ‘cool’

If the pressure continued to rise or she had a bleed in the eye options would be limited to 1 and 2.

 I was assured that Connie would be kept as pain free as possible so it was decided to continue medication overnight in the hope that some sight would be salvaged. This was particularly important because Connie’s good eye couldn’t be assessed to see if it had started to luxate. By the next morning the pressure is down to 70. Good news, so medication is continued and pressure continues slowly to decrease to normal where Mark is also able to confirm that Connie’s other eye is still showing no sign of luxation. As the pupil is reactive to



light in the luxated eye, indicating the potential for some sight the operation is performed. A very anxious wait until we get the call to say it has gone as well as could be expected. Overnight predictably Connie decides to up the ante with a bleed into the eye. This makes assessment of the sight in the eye impossible for up to ten days. On Saturday I am able to pick Connie up. A check up 10 days later has shown the blood has cleared from her eye and that while she certainly has a ‘dead’ spot in her eye she has some vision though not “normal” vision in the eye. Connie now needs to be checked monthly, then bi monthly then increasing to 4 monthly visits. She is still being medicated and will need to be for the foreseeable future. Is the outcome successful? Yes, certainly at this time but it may not remain so. She could have another episode of glaucoma, the retina can detach and if this happens it will probably mean the loss of her eye. The other eye is still sound at this time but with genetic Pll is only a matter of when and how it happens. If we are lucky it may subluxate. Medication is available and may or not be indicated depending if the luxation is anterior (lens falls forward) or posterior (lens falls backward). If it happens as the first eye did it will be another emergency situation. Anyone who knows John, Bernie and I are very aware that Connie first and foremost is a much loved pet. To look at her and know that we could lose her prematurely because of PLL breaks my heart.

 There is much written about treating Pll but my experience with Connie has shown me that until you have a dog luxate like Connie you are not in a position to speculate how distressing it is for the dog and it’s owner. Ten days on from the operation and I have a dog that only looks like Connie. She is not the same confident, utterly self important little dog. Ten days on from her operation she is subdued and withdrawn, she lies on the lounge only going outside when she needs to. She has no interest in playing with her ball .She has no interest in walks or hunting rats or rabbits. The other dogs are taking liberties undreamed of when Princess Connie  ruled. All the things she loved to do are not important to her anymore. Will she gradually become Connie again? I can only hope so.

 Make no mistake about it. PLL is a PAINFUL HEREDITARY DIEASE. We can only ‘check’ for PLL, we cannot ‘test’ and even then an eye examination does not keep our dogs safe from luxating. In many cases a regular ‘check’ may detect a lens wobble before luxation but not in all .Minis will continue to luxate suddenly and painfully. Our bullies and minis are such staunch dogs that it is hard to evaluate the level of pain minis experience with a luxation like Connie’s. I can only give a guide by describing the pain that people with the same disease relate. It is said the patients often beg the surgeon to remove the offending eye as the pain is unbearable.

Next time you are asked to vote on interbreeding please think of Connie and remember.............IT’S A VOTE ABOUT HEALTH. It’s NOT a vote about runoffs at shows, it’s NOT about the size of minis or if mini breeders are doing smart matings. It’s NOT about if you like minis or not. It’s simply about the  HEALTH of our dogs.
Merryl Elphick 

































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