Tika’s Journey

by | Jul 22, 2022 | Blog, Love Stories

In December of 2018 we noticed we noticed Tika’s left hind paw knuckling and dragging as she walked. Shortly after this, she was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), a debilitating, progressive, non-painful and incurable disease of the spinal cord which leads to gradual paralysis. It is the canine equivalent of ALS, or Lou Gherig’s Disease in humans.

The disease quickly progressed to the paralysis of her hind legs and resulting incontinence. This meant she couldn’t walk, sit, or even adjust her own body to move from one side to the other. Tika was completely dependent upon us and we did everything in our power to give her the best comfort and care that we could.

While you may think this sounds miserable and depressing, you have to understand Tika and her continued zest for life, her perseverance and desire to be included in everything. She remained as attentive as ever and constantly on guard. Her

sight and hearing were still going strong. She enjoyed playing with her ball, carrying her stick, eating mouthfuls of snow, and going for car rides. She liked to tell stories, sing songs, and bark at the birds and squirrels. She still maintained that special sparkle in her eyes.

In April 2019 we were fortunate to have had the opportunity for Tika to test out a doggie wheelchair. It was such a heart warmer and immediate tearjerker to see my girl take to it immediately… she walked with ease, and smiled proudly as she said, “Look Mom! I can move around on my own!” I was immediately sold and ordered her very own wheelchair right away! This was a game changer! Tika’s spirit improved immediately once she was able to get out and about again! It was like an all-terrain vehicle that enabled her to traverse over trails, rocks and the sandpits. She was able to go almost anywhere outdoors, including the water, snow, and on the ice! The wheelchair gave Tika a new lease on life and gave us two additional years together!

With the exception of mobility and continence, Tika was still ALL THERE (and at 14.5 years)! This is what makes Degenerative Myelopathy such a heart-wrenching disease. In the end, you are faced with having to make the ultimate decision for your pet; it’s a real fine line when it comes down to determining the “when.”

Many people have asked how we made the decision to bring Tika to the Rainbow Bridge; how did we know it was time? As a loving pet parent, this was the most difficult decision I’ve faced. After 2.5 years of living with this debilitating and progressive disease, we could see it was taking a toll on her. She was holding out for us, I’m sure of it. That’s how loyal she is!

Eventually Tika’s front legs began to weaken and she began to stumble some. We knew it was just a matter of time before she was injured and we didn’t want her to experience any pain from injuries or the progression of the disease. It was time to put Tika’s well being above all else and do what was best for her, not for us.

We set a departure date and allowed ourselves three weeks’ time. As emotional as it was to lift the veil of denial and face this harsh reality, it felt as if a massive weight had been lifted.

Knowing what was going to happen and how much time we had remaining together, this helped a great deal in preparing for the big departure. It gave us the opportunity to have the most fulfilling and precious final days together. We were able to give her the greatest gift at this stage in her life – a pain-free and peaceful departure, with both parents at her side, comforting her all the way to the Rainbow Bridge. To learn more about Tika and how her parents cared for her, visit her heartwarming two-part story at www.tawnabrown.com/blog (and on Instagram: @tikatribute).

Story and photos provided by Tawna Brown, Yellowknife, Canada

The plan for Veterinary Regional Referral Hospital is to become Newman Veterinary Research Hospital, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 facility providing intensive service for patients with specific disease criteria. By design it will provide emergency and intensive care, as well as oncology, surgery, internal medicine, imaging, clinical and anatomic pathology.