Sunday, October 7, 2012


Almost three weeks ago another little white dog entered our lives. We have talked almost from the start about eventually getting another Westie.  Westies live pretty long lives, so if all went well we would be well into our 70's by the time Harper reached the end of her life, pretty old to be getting a puppy. But if we staggered our doggies, and got another one when Harper was older, then we could have Westies gracing our lives almost until we turned 80. Anyway that's how my thinking went.

We had been talking about maybe getting a puppy next spring, once Lee wasn't traveling so much. But one day this summer Diane our breeder, friend, and source for all things Westie sent me an email. "Are you interested in a trained 5 month old Westie?" We could meet him when we picked Harper up at Diane's next week.

All the way home from our vacation to Minneapolis I fretted. Another dog...more work..and a puppy too. Did we really want to do this? What would Harper think?

But when we walked into Diane's yard and met this rolly poly curly friendly little guy, we didn't hesitate. "Of course we'll take him!" There was no question that Cosmo would very shortly be part of our lives.

Cosmo was part of a trio of puppies born to a litter last March. I remember him because at the time I was going to Diane's once a week to help her with socializing puppies because she had a lot of litters being born at that time and they all needed to be handled and exposed to other people so that they would turn into well-rounded little dogs. The two females in Cosmo's littler were a normal size. Cosmo was twice as big as the other two puppies. He was going to be a big Westie, that's for sure.

Normally Diane doesn't name her dogs, unless she plans to keep them. So all of these puppies were scheduled to go home with new families, but the day before Cosmo was scheduled to leave he started limping. Diane told the family sorry, but "puppy" would need to stay behind.

It took a long time to figure out what was wrong with Cosmo so Diane decided to name him. She names all her dogs after flowers, so that explains Cosmo's name. Eventually he stopped limping, and they narrowed down what could be wrong with him. It wasn't cancer, or a blood disorder. They decided that he had something called CMO, cranial mandibular osteopathy  which is a disorder of the bones of the face. But for some reason Cosmo's leg bones were affected as well as part of his jaw, which didn't fit. But at the time it was the only diagnosis anyone could find for what was wrong with this poor little dog.

Diane began to get very attached to Cosmo, but she has a lot of dogs, and if she kept every little dog she fell in love with she would be in big trouble. We live nearby and board our dogs with her, so she would still get to see him occasionally. She knew we took good care of our dogs, and she knew we were interested in an older puppy that was at least partially trained. It seemed like a perfect fit.

The first thing we needed to do when Cosmo came home with us was take him to our vet. She came up with a more plausible diagnosis for Cosmo. She decided that he probably had HOD, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, another bone growth disorder. But HOD primarily affects a dog's long bones, hence the involvement of Cosmo's legs. And they think that it might be an auto-immune disorder, possibly brought on by the distemper shot. This made sense, since Cosmo's first episode of lameness occurred at 8 weeks, right after his first shots. HOD usually occurs in large breed dogs, which is why no one else thought of it as a possibility for Cosmo, but other that that it made sense. Dogs with HOD will experience inflammation, pain and lameness as they go through growth spurts in their first year of life. But these spells only last a week or so and can be controlled with pain meds and rest. Cosmo has a fairly mild case, thank goodness, as severe cases can involve all four limbs and cause a lot of pain. Cosmo continued to limp for the first week he was with us, but now he runs and plays like any puppy. Dogs grow out of HOD once they complete their growth, so with any luck Cosmos will be fine by the time he is a year old.

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