Payne’s Royal Toryn – A Giant Schnauzer

28 September 2009 – 16 December 2011

Our handsome Giant Schnauzer, Toryn, at the Robert L. Nelson Dog Park just 11 days before his 2nd birthday

December 16, 2011

It is with deep sadness that I write today…coincidentally, the 241st birthday of the greatest composer of the Romantic Era, Ludwig Van Beethoven. To recap, our Giant Schnauzer Toryn has always walked funny. His back legs have always wobbled in a semi-circular motion rather than moving in the linear, front to back motion common for the breed. Just about three months ago, uncannily coincident with his second birthday, he stopped jumping up on the bed, or into the truck or car. He’d step up tentatively with his front paws, but we’d have to lift his butt to get him into the vehicle. Around Thanksgiving this year, he started to cry when getting up from a prone position after resting for a while, and given the way he walked, and his breed, we feared Hip Dysplasia.

Off to our Veterinarian we went, and after knocking him out to do a battery of X-Rays of his hips and back, while he did display a mild form of Hip Dysplasia, we shockingly discovered that his spine, about the lower 2/3rds, was fusing together! Our wonderfully kind and caring vet, Dr. Thomas McNeill, said that he was surprised to see this kind of spinal damage in a dog so young. Toryn was not even three months past his second birthday.

Tom explained that this kind of “spinal bridging” was something he might expect to see in an 11- or 12-year old dog. It seemed that Toryn’s discs weren’t anywhere near the right thickness or size, and may not just be under formed, but may actually be degenerating, even at his young age. As such, the normal cushioning that the vertebrae would have in his spinal column was absent, and the vertebrae were rubbing against each other and calcifying, bridging over, forming a solid column, and causing him tremendous discomfort. In essence, his vertebrae were fusing together.

With no other options, we put him on a Pfizer manufactured canine NSAID called Rimadyl, and for the first 10-12 days, he didn’t cry and seemed much better. Heck, he even jumped up into the truck and onto the bed! We were very encouraged.

But recently – over the last two days – it seemed that their impact at relieving his discomfort had become less and less effective. He had his pill at 8 PM last night, yet woke us up at 3 AM with his cries. I gave him another half a pill at 3:30 AM, but by 5 AM, he was still too uncomfortable to sleep and keep up his crying. It was breaking our hearts. By 8:30, he cried every time he moved, even when lying down. I gave him another pill, and by 9:30, his crying had still not completely stopped.

At 11:00 AM, we took him to our Vet, and I had to lift him into and out of the truck, no easy feat with this 110 pound vibrant dog. Even with my assistance, he cried at the slightest movement of his back. We took him into the exam room, and he was so uncomfortable, he couldn’t sit or lie down. He just stood and walked around impatiently, crying out occasionally, and looking at us with those adorable big brown eyes. After a long discussion, Tom assured us that we were doing the right thing. There simply was nothing else that we could do for him. We just couldn’t sit by and watch him suffer so…

Tom brought in a blanket and a pillow, and then gave him a shot to help him relax and ease his pain. He fought it, wobbling and swaying, until Kim and I helped him lie down on the blanket and put his head on the pillow. He seemed to be much more comfortable then, his panting slowed and the misery in his eyes was greatly diminished. Kim and I sat on the floor with him, held his head, and stroked his back. We talked to him and told him we loved him and that soon, all the pain would be gone. Tom administered an injection into a vein in his rear right leg, and after only a few very quiet, calm, and serene minutes, at about 11:45 this morning, his heart stopped. No more pain for our beautiful baby boy. We stayed for a time; we still weren’t ready to leave him. We both wept and kissed him goodbye one last time. The local pet crematorium is going to see to him, and we have been home thinking of him ever since. We are devastated.

Tom said it was a very selfless thing we had done for him, and the most painful one for us. We were so torn by the decision, but we just could not watch him suffer such discomfort and misery. We miss him so very much. But, he left us calmed, more comfortable, and with his beautiful head in our laps, knowing that we loved him…

Meet Toryn

On March 23rd, 2010, Kim and I left Elkhart at 4:30 AM. Our destination was New Carlisle, Ohio. Both Google Maps and my Garmin nuvi said it would be 275 miles and 4 and a half hours. They were right.

We arrived exactly at 9 AM and met Denise and Jim, the very nice folks who breed Giant Schnauzer’s (Payne Mountain Kennels) and who had gotten Kim all the information on this one particular five-month old puppy, Toryn! After about 2 minutes with this handsome, personable little fellow, we knew he was going to be the one… So, after a short romp in the yard, we jumped back into the BMW and headed back to Elkhart.

Sleeping comfortably on Kim’s lap, Toryn seemed at home within seconds of getting into the back
seat! And, look at that smile on Kim’s face! Yeah, this little pup has found a very happy ‘Mom.”

After a very quick pit stop just north of Wapakoneta, Ohio on I75 for a drink and a quick “squirt,” and then a second longer one just after we got back into Indiana on I80, we made the four and a half hour journey without incident. It seems this young man is quite comfy in the car!

Once home, the first person he met was next door neighbor Phil who was on his way out to get his mail just as we pulled in. On into the house and back yard, Toryn seemed less than impressed. Keep in mind, his previous home included 6 other dogs and 46 acres!

We took a walk around the neighborhood, and though he had never been on a leash before that morning with Denise and Jim, he faired pretty well… He was VERY interested in some of the neighborhood dogs, but they were either out of reach (fences or tethers) or antisocial, all of which seemed to confuse our new boy. He seemed VERY social and just wanted to go meet these new dogs and play.

We hadn’t been back in from our neighborhood walk ten minutes, when Toryn plopped down in the center of the sun room, stretched out, stated basking in the sunlight streaming through the windows, and promptly passed out!

Out like a light! And, did you get a look at the SIZE of those paws? Yeah, he’s gonna’ get BIG!

We were quite surprised since he hadn’t done anything to speak of all day long, but he is just a puppy, so he needs his rest.

Though not just 6 months old, his is already 65 pounds. He will surely grow to be some 100-110 pounds as an adult, and will be bigger than his new “Mom” quite soon!

Here is our boy, just after a bath, with two of his three favorite toys…a fuzzy Milk
Bone and a rabbit! The fourth one, a stuffed Duck, is safely hiding in another room…

One of the issues with such a large breed puppy is that he really can’t get enough of a jaunt by our walking him around the neighborhood, or from romping in our medium sized back yard. So, with the help of we discovered the Robert L. Nelson Dog Park.

At Nelson’s, he can run, play, and even swim (they have a small, cordoned off pond!) with a huge variety of dogs, all sizes and breeds.

He does get distracted by the other local wildlife, like squirrels and birds… ;-D

Overall, he REALLY likes this experience. Though it is a 25 minute drive from the house, I try to take him three nights during the week and at least once on the weekend… Kim gets him there daily in the morning, so he is there quite a bit. He is so much less of a nuisance at the house after a good run!  ;-D

Though we can’t get him in our pool at home, recently he has taken to lying in a child’s wading pool at the dog park. Very cool in the summer heat, I’m sure…

Below are some photos of him running on Kim’s father’s property…just about his favorite place on earth. There he gets to romp and run and play with their three dogs and two miniature horses. Their menagerie, combined with the fenced in pond full of fish, geese and ducks, right beside an artificial “mountain,” make it quite the playground for such a silly big dog like Toryn.

Toryn sitting on the shady side of his “Mountain”…

“King of the Mountain,” Toryn surveying much of the rest of the property

Toryn and Lily having a dispute over just who’s Mountain it is…

Toryn runnin’ full throttle around the “Mountain” by the pond while Lil’ digs and picks out a nice spot