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My name is Douglas Silber and I am the proud owner of Cletus the Bloodhound, a 2 year old Bloodhound mix who has the first reported case of open lipped schizencephaly in a canine. I adopted Cletus when he was only 8 weeks old and I have to say it was not I who chose him, it was my other dog, Magnum, who I had adopted from a shelter three weeks prior. I wanted 2 puppies and Magnum, even at only 1 year old was showing signs of dominance so we had to get our 2nd puppy fast or else he would not let another dog in the house. We brought Magnum into our vet who had 6 little Bloodhound puppies (brothers and sisters) for adoption and Magnum chose the runt, Cletus.
Everything was going great for the first 8 months, and then on Halloween night last year, Cletus had a Grand Mal seizure in the middle of the night. We awoke out of sleep to banging coming from the dining room as Cletus was knocking against a china cabinet. This was the first of 30 known seizures Cletus has had to date. The vet at the emergency hospital diagnosed Cletus with epilepsy but as the weeks went on, I started to doubt this diagnosis. The seizures began to increase in intensity and the time between seizures was getting shorter and shorter. Cletus even started having cluster seizures.
I brought Cletus back to the ER and told them that they need to do an MRI to rule out a brain tumor or brain cancer. If Cletus was 6 or 7 years old, they would run tests to rule these things out. They told me they would watch him for the night and “they would bet their house in Vegas that Cletus just has an inner ear infection in combination to epilepsy”. Needless to say, they lost their house. That night, things began to go downhill fast for Cletus. He began to sidestep to the left… his head began to tilt to the left… and he began to cross his paws when standing or laying down… all signs of neurological issues. The doctors rushed him into Neurology the next morning and ran tests. The MRI showed an immense amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) in his cranium going all the way from the front to the back. They also saw that most of the top half of Cletus’ brain was completely missing except for one little sliver. The doctors rediagnosed Cletus with Congenital Hydrocephalus which seemed like a good diagnosis and fit for most of his symptoms.
A few days later the head of Neurology called me after meeting with the heads of departments from all over the hospital to tell me they were once again rediagnosing Cletus, this time with open lipped schizencephaly – the first case ever reported in a canine. I brought Cletus back into the hospital for the doctors to run a CT scan which confirmed their diagnosis. Cletus has an opening in his skull where CSF is leaking in causing pressure to build up and seizures to occur.
It is believed that Cletus had a stroke in utero from possibly being crushed from another puppy which caused the OLS. Shunting is not an option for Cletus as the procedure, which only has a 50% success rate in dogs, could potentially cause the CSF to rush out too fast and cause a deadly stroke for Cletus. Craneoplasty, a procedure where doctors would place a graft over the opening in Cletus’ skull, is also not an option for Cletus for the same reason I am being told.
Cletus is on several seizure control medications, CSF control medication, herbal medications, probiotics, natural supplements, goes to both physical therapy and sees an acupuncturist who is doing him wonders. We have had many ups and downs and months of playing with his medications to get Cletus to the point where his condition is under control. We have had to deal with doctors who say to just put Cletus down but my feeling is that as long as Cletus is living pain free and his quality of life is good, why shouldn’t he have the best life that I can provide him?
I don’t know what the future will bring, I don’t even know what this afternoon will bring, but as of right now, as of this moment, Cletus is happy and healthy. To look at him you would not know anything was wrong with him. He looks like a normal, active, happy, healthy, 2 year old puppy. He likes when I throw his ball into the air so he can catch it. As far as half his brain missing, I have to say that Cletus is one of the smartest dogs I have ever had. The doctors told me that dogs do not use the portion of the brain that Cletus is missing. Cletus knows the names of all his toys, he knows the names of each of his “treats” which are the different medications he has to take and he goes right to where I keep each specific one by me mentioning that one. Cletus is AMAZING!!
Although I did not choose Cletus, I am so grateful that Magnum did. Cletus and Magnum are attached at the hip… best friends… brothers… but to Magnums surprise, Cletus is now twice Magnums size and has now become the dominant one!
You can view our ABC interview here
Cletus’ blog, has received over 7000 hits from around the world.
Cletus can’t be the only one with this condition. Other animals must be getting misdiagnosed, mistreated, and must be dying due to vets not understanding what they are dealing with. We have to get the word out about Cletus to help save other animals.