We’d like to introduce you to Bindi, a precious Maltese who has been through a lot in her 6 years of life. When you read her story, you might think that she would hate coming to the animal hospital, or that she would be depressed. But Bindi reminds us that the right attitude can bring gratitude.
Bindi first came to us as a 2-pound ball of adorable white fluff in November of 2012. Her puppyhood was normal except that she had some squinting and discharge in her right eye, and she had a few episodes of unexplainable pain. Over the first year of her life, it became more evident that she did not have any tear production in her right eye. This severe case of dry eye made her more prone to ulcers and damage in her cornea, which became more and more difficult to control. We tried every medication available and had her see a veterinary ophthalmology specialist to see if there was anything we could do to save her eye, but it was causing her too much pain. When she was a year and a half old, we removed her eye.
Bindi didn’t miss that bad eye at all and was happy not to be in pain. But a few months after the surgery, she developed an infection in the eye socket that wasn’t responding to antibiotics. We did a second surgery to clear the infection, which worked well and solved the problem. Life was good again!
That reprieve didn’t last long, as a few months after her 2nd birthday, Bindi started having more frequent episodes of pain that appeared to be coming from her neck or her mouth. Over the next month and a half, she took several pain medications which helped some, but she was still not right. She saw an orthopedic surgeon who recommended that she should have an MRI, so her Mom took her to the University of Tennessee (UT) to see a neurologist. After a battery of tests including an MRI, spinal tap, and testing for infectious diseases, the neurologists at UT determined that she had a disorder called Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis (GME).
From Veterinary Partner.com: The classical patient is a young to middle-aged small breed dog though any dog of any breed can be affected. What sort of neurologic signs are seen depend totally on what area of the nervous system is involved. Seizures, neck pain, drunken gait, walking in circles, blindness, listlessness, tilted head, facial abnormalities, and weakness can be seen. This does not leave out much in the way of neurologic symptoms. Symptoms can come on acutely or be more chronic. Breeds felt to have a genetic predisposition to GME are Chihuahua, Dachshund, Maltese, and miniature poodle.
We had an answer, but the prognosis for dogs with this condition is variable. The best results have been seen with a combination of steroids and a chemotherapy drug called Cytosar, which is given on two consecutive days every 3-4 weeks. UT started Bindi’s Cytosar treatment, then we took over. Bindi got her first chemo treatment in February of 2015, and she has come in monthly for her treatments since then. She responded beautifully and hasn’t had any more pain episodes or symptoms of her GME nearly 4 years after her diagnosis.
The medical part of Bindi’s story is remarkable since she has had so many serious problems and she is doing so well. But what makes Bindi extra special is that she loves coming to see her friends at Animal Hospital of North Asheville! Every month you can count on Bindi to come in with her tail wagging, ready to trade kisses for liver treats. She has an extensive wardrobe of dresses and winter gear which makes her even cuter. She is a ray of sunshine, bringing love to everyone who meets her. We love her Mom, too!
We’ll keep giving Bindi her chemo as long as it’s working for her, and we hope that she will stay well for many more years. She and patients like her remind us to be grateful for all of the good things in life. We are particularly grateful for the ability to help animals and their people every day. Happy Thanksgiving!