Ray Cataldi, webmaster



My name is Doug Best, I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm writing to you because you share the same love and appreciation for Great Danes that I and my family do, and I hope because of that I can ask for your help.

In January of 2004 my wife and I added a new member to our family - Junior, an 8 week old mis-marked Boston Great Dane. He was filling the spot in our home and our hearts that was left empty a year earlier when we lost Gustav, my brindle male Dane, just after his 13th birthday. Just old age that took him home, but a devastating loss nonetheless. Our 2nd Dane, Jessica, an 11-year old Harlequin, was depressed for weeks.
Gustav had been her constant companion her whole life.

Junior's personality showed itself instantly - incredibly friendly, energetic and active. He drove Jessica crazy, but brought new light into her life as well. We live half a mile from a 200-acre park, with
meadows, streams and wooded trails, and our daily hikes and jogs became a highlight of my day.

In March of 2004 we discovered my wife was pregnant, a surprise since we weren't expecting to start a family yet. The bigger surprise came at the first ultrasound, when we discovered it was twins!

In October Eleanor and Wilson Best joined our family, the biggest and proudest day of my life. But the transition wasn't easy. My wife and I are both graphic designers and were living a comfortable, working-class life. But we agreed it was important for her to be a full-time mom, so we quickly transformed from 2 incomes and no kids to 1 income and 2 kids. Additionally, there were complications with her pregnancy and the first couple months of their lives were difficult, and our insurance was inadequate. I was forced to take 2 months unpaid leave to be a full-time Dad, and by Christmas mom and babies were at home and doing great, but we were close to bankrupt and thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt.

Then in January I began noticing Junior was having some difficulty controlling his hind legs - loss of balance and coordination, but he seemed to be in no pain. Two trips to our vet were inconclusive - x-rays showed it was not dysplasia. The vet suggested I take him to Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital, as it seemed to be neurological rather than orthopedic, and OSU was state-of-the-art.

Dr. Keg at OSU advised a myleogram and CAT scan, expensive procedures.  But they confirmed her suspicions - cervical vertebral instability (CVI), also called canine wobbler's disease. It is a genetic condition found mostly in Danes and Dobermans. In Junior's case, 4 successive vertebrae in his neck have excessive interior bone or soft tissue, that re compressing his spinal cord, impairing its correct function. His case is considered severe and his outlook, untreated, is quickly
increasing loss of mobility until paralysis occurs. He is currently mobile and in no pain.

I've learned all I can about this disease, and spoken at length with Dr. Keg of OSU and Dr. Fairhurst of Montgomery Animal Hospital, our own vet. I even spoke with Dr. Durkes in Indiana about his alternate gold bead therapy. The consensus was that surgery, to remove the excess matter from the vertebrae and thereby improve spinal cord function, was the best course for Junior. No responsible vet will give you guarantees on such a serious procedure, but there is a very reasonable prognosis for Junior to enjoy a full life with mildly constrained activity and no pain. His home life is already one of complete comfort and spoiling.

Some people may disagree with my campaign to ask for help - I understand, and let me say its more than humbling for me. Others may disagree with putting a dog through such a surgical ordeal - this has
weighed on me heavily. But Junior is young and otherwise healthy, and has such joy of life and such spirit that I cannot give up on him.

If you care to help, I am asking for your financial support. The surgery and recovery are going to cost approximately $5,000. It will be years before my wife and I have financially recovered from what we have just gone through, and by that time Junior will be gone. You can send a check directly to me at my address below, but please make it out to Ohio State Veterinary Hospital. I spoke to them about accepting checks in the mail for Junior, but they said they could not be responsible for that. If you send a check I will not be depositing them until mid- or late April when I hopefully have enough to take Junior to OSU for his procedure.

I and my family and Junior thank you warmly and sincerely for your support.

Doug Best
6715 Belkenton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45236



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