We are so excited to add featured blog posts to our ever-growing blog! It is a great way for everyone to learn more about their favorite MPS animal on a personal level.
Our first blog post features Bella, and what better way to celebrate her life than a blog post all about her on her birthday! We’re sure she is celebrating up in heaven with her MPS Cousins, but we can’t help but miss her and wish she was still here with us. Her mommy, Yvette, was nice enough to let us in on her life with Bella and we are so thankful! Check out our interview below to learn more about life with an MPS animal.
1. How did you find Bella?
We found Bella through a rescue located in the Greater Los Angeles area. We were living in San Diego at the time and drove up to LA on a Friday night to pick up our sweet girl!
2. Was she already diagnosed with MPS-VI when you met her?
When we adopted Bella, she was not diagnosed with MPS-VI. She showed no major signs or symptoms at the time that indicated anything major was different.
3. When did she begin to show symptoms? What kind of symptoms did she show?
I believe it was around 6 months when she began developing what looked like a cloudy film over her eyes. Veterinarians described it as "mineral deposits" and tried a number of eye drops and ointments to help clear it up. The "deposits" on her eyed never cleared, however this never caused her to have any issues navigating our house. Following this development, we became worried about her breathing. We noticed her breaths were labored and went to multiple veterinarians to learn that she not only had teeny-tiny airways, but a partially collapsed trachea as well. At one of these veterinarian visits, we learned that her cute, quirky walk wasn't "normal" and the list went on.
4. Do you know if any of her siblings have MPS as well?
I reached out to the rescue we adopted her from, hoping we could get in contact with any of her siblings families and we received no support. My personal belief is that the rescue feared being associated with dogs like Bella.
5. Did you have any knowledge of MPS or its several types before Bella?
NO! We had never heard of MPS prior to Bella.
6. How did your life change with Bella?
Bella changed our world. She was our first fur-kid as a married couple and we're so grateful to have had her in our life. She taught us about strength, determination, how to be empathetic and patient in our busy, ever-changing world. We truly took the time to stop and smell the roses with Bella. We were fortunate enough to recognize our time with her was precious and to enjoy each moment.
7. What kind of care goes into having an MPS Dog? Is there specific food and certain medications she absolutely needed?
Our household definitely made adjustments as Bella’s needs changed. Bella utilized stairs to get up and down the couch. While out and about, we would carry her in a purse so she could enjoy outings. Towards the middle of year two, her diet changed and we began cooking her homemade meals. This was a team effort! My mother ALWAYS made her special homemade meals that she simply LOVED. During the last year of Bella's life, we had to start smashing or blending her food as it became difficult for her to consume anything else. We would tilt her bowls so she wouldn't get food or water up her nose and choke. To be honest, I can probably write a lengthy essay on the amount of care that goes into having an MPS dog. However, I'll end my response with this:
I originally wasn't sure whether or not I should share what I'm about to...but heck, why not?! During Bella's last 6-8 months, she began having seizures. She would loose control of her bladder and urinate wherever she was. Bella slept in our bed and at one point, we found ourselves changing the sheets and cleaning about three nights a week. At that point, we had to decide whether we should make her sleep on the floor by herself or set her up on the bed with puppy pads. We couldn't imagine her sleeping on the floor nor did we think she would comply. With that being said, we began sleeping with a bunch of puppy pads on our bed just in case she had a seizure where she emptied her bladder. Some people might think that's gross, however we call it true love. There wasn't anything we wouldn't do for our sweet girl.
8. What was Bella's favorite activity?
Definitely going to the beach. Bella LOVED putting her paws in the sand. She would run around digging holes, playing with seaweed and enjoyed napping in the sun.
9. What advice would you give to those who are just starting out with an MPS pet?
I highly recommend getting connected with other MPS Army families. It can be overwhelming at first but the more you connect, the easier it is to cope with. Our wonderful MPS families have gone through this or are currently going through this.
10. If there was anything to be done differently, what would it be and why?
I wish I would've been more receptive of the MPS Army Foundation when they originally reached out. It took us a few months to test Bella and connect with MPS Army but once we did, it was a game changer for us. Had I known about the Foundation earlier, I would have utilized that extra time to meet up with fellow MPS Army pawrents in person. It can be therapeutic to connect with others who understand your situation.
Is there anything else you would like to add about Bella or the disease itself? Bella's funny quirks, what went into testing Bella for MPS, vet visits - anything!
The only thing I'd like to say to readers is to be kind. Typically we'd get stopped for how cute Bella was, but their were occasions where people would say inappropriate and hurtful comments regarding her appearance. People would ask, "What's wrong with her?, "Is she blind?" or make comments that she's "Weird looking". Bella was a well-cared for and loved dog. If you wouldn't walk up to a person and ask those questions or make those comments about whomever they're with, then don't do that to someones dog. Always be kind as you never know the full story.