Nanook of the North didn’t survive


Nanook was adopted from a pet rescue farm in Poway on March 13th, 2010.  He was a very timid but playful 3-4 month old puppy. He seemed healthy with the only symptom being a dry warm nose. Nanook had diarrhea since we brought him home.  I thought the first few days he would be stressed out and then also adding a new kind of puppy food, I expected it a bit.  He was only going 3 or 4 times a day but it was soft in a mound and not formed.


I went to my local vet clinic and just picked up a couple of cans of hills prescription diet rd and a tube of probiotics for him.  It seemed to help a bit, some stools now are formed and some partial mounds. He was drinking a lot of water, eating well and his neck skin bounces back good.  I also noticed a bit of eye discharge. The first few days it was clear and I would wipe it away in the morning.  Then for one day it looked slightly green but less drainage.  I am only wiping it away in the morning so I thought that this small amount is normal.


I took Nanook to the vet for his diarrhea and took in a stool sample. The vet said he had rods in his stool and so we got Primor antibiotic for him.


His stools improved but then he vomited on the 26th and I returned to the vet and he said that he has protazoan  in his stool, so we started metronidazole.  I had been giving him water from our reverse osmosis system. His stool now looked normal and I saw no blood, worms, or anything abnormal looking. .  He was a bit lethargic, but still playful. Over the first week with us he developed a small paw twitch, first visible only during sleep, which progressed to include his entire left leg.  I mentioned the paw to the vet on the 26th.  He said along with hiccups it is normal for a puppy.  Over that evening the twitch increased to the entire leg so we went to another vet that a friend uses.


2nd Vet : She did a full blood work up and sent the stool for tests.  She noted that the leg was not normal.  It has increased in frequency.  The blood work was close to normal and the stool was positive for girardia and coccidia.


He was started on the metronidazole and Albon, the Priomor was stopped.   This vet called a neuro vet that agreed it was probably distemper.  We were informed that the tests to confirm are not very reliable and that there is no treatment.


Nanook’s leg twitch seems to be much stronger and he is whimpering when he is trying to get comfortable and sleep. He also has only a pea size green drainage from both eyes now.  I have no history of him having any respiratory symptoms.  He has vomited 1 time a day for the past two days a couple of hours after breakfast after drinking a medium amount of water.   He is eating and drinking well, and playing occasionally.  His stool is normal. I took him to a ER Vet center in Tustin.  They gave him a pain shot and drew some blood and did a conjuctival smear that they were going to hold onto until I took the dog to the neurologist the next day.


Neurology consult in Tustin.  Spinal tap/ CSF test to send to lab done under sedation at Neurologist.  He was started on Neurontin 100mg 3X daily.  It seemed to help a bit.


Still waiting for the test results.  Now twitch is very strong and occasional right rear leg twitch noted.  Contacted Ed Bond who referred us to Dr. S. in Westlake.  Took Nanook to Westlake.  Dr. S. out sick…seen by his partner who also wanted to wait for the CSF results.  She gave us Chinese herbal  Di tan tang. 1 capsule 2 x day.


Called Neuro Vet about whimpering.  Prescription of phenobarb picked up and single 15mg tab given.

Emailed Ed again.  Still looking for a Dr. who will do the bladder smear.

Called Dr. N. in Simi Valley.  Nanook still eating and drinking.  2 legs twitching, lethargic, glazed eye appearance, drunken walk.  He would come in on his day off and see Nanook.  After Hx and exam, concluded that it was probably distemper.  Dr. N. did the NDV vaccine in the body and csf.  Tolerated procedure well, woke up crying and shaking.  Given Buprenex for pain several times after the procedure.  Trembling but sleeping.


Still recovering at Dr. Ns.  Eating, walking and wagging tail.  Still twitching and whimpering.  Phenobarb 15mg given.


No change in status.  Phenobarb 15mg 2 x daily given. Still good appetite.


Nanook picked up from Dr. N.  Still twitching strong, and whimpering.  Returned home.  Restarted oral antibiotics.  Continued phenobarb.  Rough night…only 1-2 hours of sleep due to whimpering and twitching.  Di tan tang and Phenobarb given….no coorelation or relief noted from either med.  Cut phenobarb back to half tab 1 dose.  Still giving Di tan tang.


Still good appetite, normal stool.  Still strong twitching both legs, drunken walk. Glazed eyes and lethargic.  Whimpering and shaking when standing.  Occasional tail wag but no play.  Slept during day 2, 3 hour naps.  No phenobarb for 14 hours.  Di tan tang given.  At night Slept for 6 hours.


Shaking when standing, drunken walk, lethargic, whimpering, unable to sleep/ nap during daytime.  Restarted half tab phenobarb, and continued Di tan tang.  8pm: lethargic, very little walking.  Still eating and drinking  great.  Twithching very strong, occasional whimpering.  Full tab 15mg Phenobarb given.  9pm dog sleeping twitching a bit less.


No real changes to report.  Still on clindamycin  2 X a day, Omega 3, flagyl 2 X day, albon finished.  Appetite good, stool normal.  Very little play.  Phenobarb given during day ¼ tab 2 or 3 times during day hours. And then  ½ to full tab given at night.  Sleeping good at night.  Not as much whimpering day or night.  Twitching is strong includes the strongest limb, the front paw and seems to include the rest of the paws at different times…all stemming from the same front paw twitch (in unison).  Drunken walk still present.  Occasionally when standing he will stand on 3 legs, and the worst paw he holds up as it twitches.  He wags his tail when we talk to him or when a new family member comes home.  He occasionally walks around by himself in the backyard, but normally just follows me around all day.  He seemed to have a good day yesterday…outside most of the day watching us work in the yard.  Seemed really tired at night and then I realized that I had not seen him nap much during the day.  Today, I am now scheduling naps during the day for him.

Since we have had him, he has had zero respiratory symptoms.  He has never had a full  epileptic/ grand mal type seizure and doesn’t have the “bubble gum” chewing/ teeth chatter.   He will occasionally whimper and whine while he is laying down and we are now wondering if that is a small focal seizure.

Dr. N. is the best vet and we are so happy to have found him.  Since he is new to this treatment, I am reaching out to get as much advise as we can.  Is there a med protocol that we should follow after the NDV treatment?

Before tonight (4/7), I was not convinced that the phenobarb was helping (it only seemed to make it harder for him to walk, he was still twitching and whimpering just the same).  Tonight it has seemed to help him go to sleep (sleeping at my feet for the last hour).  The twitching still strong mostly, but occasionally less.  I feel that he needs sleep to heal, but wonder if the phenobarb is the best thing for him.  4/12 we seem to have a good phenobarb schedule.. less during the day, so he can walk around… More during the night so he can sleep.

I am now wondering about a muscle relaxer, botox injection, or acupuncture for his twitching.

Spoke with the Neurologist today 4/7.  No positive distemper in the csf.  Other test like toxoplasmosis still pending. If these come back negative, then it looks to still be distemper.

Spoke with the Neuro office again today (4/12/10).  No results back yet.  Does it really take over 2 weeks for these results?

Please advise how we can make Nanook comfortable while his body is trying to heal itself.


Hi Ed,

Nanook is still with us.  He still has a very strong twitch that effects most of his body.  I will try to update some more video of him soon.  He stands on 3 legs a lot and has a head bob.  The left front paw that started the twitch first is the one that he is having a hard time walking on.  He seems scared to move because when he walks that paw doesn’t always work and he will occasionally fall.  He still follows me around all day.  He is happy when anyone comes home, or when seeing someone that he hasn’t for a while.  He will give out a bark and lots of tail wags.  He likes to cuddle with me and will sleep comfortably on my lap.  Sometimes when he sleeps his twitch is very light.  He goes in his crate at night and sleeps. He is no longer whimpering at all.  Last week he was occasionally waking up with a cold wet nose, but we have not seen that in a few days.  He likes to go out in the front of our house and will occasionally explore on his own through all of the bushes.  He has been eating well.  We had him on crumbs of phenobarb, less and less each day, with a bit more at night.  He has been off of it for 3 days now.  We have him on a chinese herb Di Tan tang and vitamins.  I hope that we will see some improvement soon.  It is hard to see a puppy that is missing out on all of the normal puppy stuff.  He doesn’t run and play since the day before the treatment.  He will occasionally gallop to keep up with me in the backyard and he will take his bone outside and lay down with it.  We are still hoping for the best.  I have an appointment with Dr Novy the first week of May, when he returns from his ranch.  I will keep you posted with any new developments.  My husband has been reaching out to anyone on different chats about treatment for chorea/ myoclonus.  I hope that we can find something to help.

UPDATE 5/2/2010

Hi Ed,

Here is a summary of Nanook that you can share. We are hoping for the best this week.

Nanook was adopted from a pet rescue farm in Poway on March 13th, 2010. He was originally rescued by 4 Patas in Baja/ Ensenada, Mexico. He was a very timid but playful 3-4 month old puppy. The rescue said that he was one of the healthiest looking pups that they ever rescued.

His original symptom was a light paw twitch noted on 3/14. With all other tests normal we proceeded to the Neuro vet on 3/31 where a spinal tap/csf test was done. Deteriorating rapidly, we took him to a vet in Simi Valley 4/2 to have the NDV treatment. This vet has over 40 years of experience and has seen the massive damage distemper can cause.

Nanook returned home 4/5, the NDV seemed to stop the progression…but only time could repair the damage already caused.

The CSF test took over 3 weeks to get the results back 4/19. Everything was negative. The only test from this that can have a false negative is Distemper. The Simi Valley vet has seen a lot of Distemper and confirmed the diagnosis using only his years of experience on 4/2. If we would have waited for the results, Nanook would have been gone.

He has been on 1/4th of a tab of phenobarb 2 times a day for the past 4 weeks. He has been comfortable, no whimpering. Eating well. Just twitching and lack of coordination.

Last weekend we had quite a scare, ended up carrying him to our deck and laying down with him to say my goodbyes because his chorea movement stopped and his heart slowed and then it came to a stop and then he miraculously awoke, the chorea movement started again and thankfully so did his breathing, but he was gone for a few minutes. His baseline now is marked with heavy breathing and a total lack of coordination, including his tongue, which keeps falling out of his mouth. He’s still happy to see us, wags his tail and still follows us around the best he can.

We did an emergency visit 5/1 and returned to the vet in Simi Valley, Nanook is now on potassium bromide to help treat the chorea and with the hope that it will give the myelin time to repair. This med should see some improvement in the next ten days. The vet has indicated that he has seen dogs recover from this. We are all hoping and praying for the best. This could be our last hope.

Here are the links to the newest videos that were taken 5/2.

There are prior videos of the disease progression on youtube and the kindheartsinaction website.

Thanks for everything.

Kandy Bouquet

Update: 5/11/2010

Tue, May 11, 2010 11:46:27 AM

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their support with our little puppy Nanook over the last month and half.  As you all know we rescued a puppy from San Diego in March and he was everything we could ask for, perfectly behaved, absolutely affection and he spent most of his time shadowing my wife’s every move.  My two boys fell madly in love with him and there was always a race from the car to the house to see who could get to him first.  The boys slept on the floor next to him almost every night.  Nanook brought a lot of life to our home and his greeting when we got home was second to none.  Nanook started to get a little tremor in his paw about a week after we got him, which we had checked out by 6 different doctors and that tremor during into a convulsion of sorts, then escalated in a variety of neurological symptoms.  We found a wonderful doctor in Simi Valley and took Nanook to him for his expert care in the field of distemper.  Nanook survived a total of 4 operations, he lived through a seizure which took his breath away for several minutes and then miraculously started breathing again – just in time for Kandy (the love of his life) to get home and see him.  Unfortunately, the past week he went downhill very fast, suffering from total paralysis from his neck down and was only able to wag his tail and wimper in his efforts to greet us.  We saw him on Saturday after his 2nd procedure with one more procedure scheduled for Sunday and we decided that he was not going to be able to live the life of a dog and there was no good prognosis for his condition.  Kandy and I went up to Simi Valley yesterday afternoon to get him out of the “cage” and we took him to the park to watch ducks and fed him his favorite steak and eggs meal.  We had a great afternoon with him but we could tell he knew his time was short and he was not feeling well.   We took him back to the vet’s office last night and Dr. Novy put him to sleep in Kandy’s arms.   It was terrible that he was dealt such a bad hand in life and never got what he deserved.  He had too short of life, but the time he had here was full of love.  Our boys went off to school today in okay shape, Kandy on the other hand will be dealing with the loss of her best buddy for some time.

Thankfully we had you all and the support from people going through the same issues which was giving us a great deal of hope and provided tremendous relief for our family.

Thank you all and rest in peace Nanook.

Brian Bouquet