By South OB Girl / OB Rag
Over the years you may have seen the Welsh corgi Floppy at the side of his owner, Steve Mallory, who is the owner of Mallory Furniture on Newport Ave.
Recently you may have seen 16-year old Floppy in his new “ride.” A shopping cart which was abandoned in Mallory’s parking lot, with no markings of Vons or Ralphs or any business name. After asking police officers if using the cart would be okay – Mallory has transformed the cart into a portable bed to take Floppy out on strolls. As quite tragically, Floppy now suffers from a genetic disorder, canine degenerative myelopathy.
Canine degenerative myelopathy is an incurable, progressive disease of the canine spinal cord that is similar in many ways to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Progressive weakness and in-coordination of the rear limbs are often the first signs seen in affected dogs, with progression over time to complete paralysis. Mallory says the first sign for Floppy was that he could not walk up stairs.
Onset of canine degenerative myelopathy (or canine DM) is typically after the age of 7. Myelin is an insulating sheath around neurons in the spinal cord. One proposed cause of degenerative myelopathy is that the immune system attacks this sheath, breaking it down. This results in a loss of communication between nerves in the lower body of the animal and the brain.
Degenerative myelopathy initially affects the back legs and causes muscle weakness and loss, and lack of coordination. The dog may drag one or both rear paws when it walks. The condition may lead to extensive paralysis of the back legs. As the disease progresses, the animal may display symptoms such as incontinence and has considerable difficulties with both balance and walking.
If allowed to progress, the animal will show front limb involvement and extensive muscle atrophy and paralysis. Eventually cranial nerve or respiratory muscle involvement necessitates euthanasia or long term palliative care. (Source)
At home Floppy has a doggy wheelchair. But out and about for walks on Newport Avenue – OB’s main commercial drag, Floppy rides in his rigged out cart. Rigged out with cushions and blankets, and puppy training pads. Due to the incontinence and loss of coordination that come with canine DM, the cart with cushions and puppy training pads are helping to keep Floppy as comfortable as possible. Which is all that can be done as the disease progresses.
He enjoys his view up there from his perch in the shopping cart. He was too long for some of the dog strollers you sometimes see people using. So Mallory crafted this shopping cart as a rolling bed.
Mallory said the use of the cart has increased his popularity among the homeless. Who extend invites to him to go to the local churches for food. He chuckles about this development that he has now been considered to be homeless. But — anything for Floppy.
I have always been touched by the extent to which people will go for their animals. The insurmountable love people have for their animals and the things they will do — ramps and stairs up to couches and beds for aging pooches who can’t make the jump any more. Sweaters and costumes. Custom collars and leashes. Toys and treats. Of course the many vet bills some pet owners pay can add up significantly over the years. Many an OBcean will do just about anything for their animals — and it is always heart warming to see.
Mallory says Floppy is not in pain and we can all hope he will be as comfortable as possible as his owners tend and care for him. And most certainly give him an extra belly rub if if you happen to see Floppy riding in his new wheels.