Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Meridel : Well, if you are my friend through the pups, then you have probably seen this in a few places tonight, and well...you're gonna see it again.
Four years ago tonight, my little 11-month-old Welsh terrier, Elwood...22 lb. of unbridled mischeif and charm walked up the stairs and started to growl, snarl and snap at me, his Mommy.
From the time he was three months old, he excelled at obedience taking three levels and then agility (low impact 'cause he was a puppy). He went to daycare from the time he was five months old and was very well behaved. At the first daycare he went to, the owner kept asking him "Don't you know you are a terrier?" He was the sweetest dog, and on October 20, 2012, I mentioned this very thing to my husband--he didn't guard food, he had never growled. He lived in harmony with his wheaten brother and his majestic mutt sister, who he adores. He had learned puppy manners and I cannot stress what a wonderful little puppy he was...chokes me up as I type this...
On October 21, 2012, at 9:00 p.m., Elwood "Flycatcher-Kleenex-Shredder" Blues walked up the stairs from our basement and proceeded to growl and lunge at me. Most of his aggression was focused on me and me alone...about 90% of the viciousness. Another 5% focused on our male wheaten, Jake (who is a puppy mill rescue and is completely void of the aggression gene), and the rest was split between my husband and the daycare staff he trusted.
Four months and five vets later and after several puncture wounds to my right arm as the aggression escalated, we would finally walk into the right vet's office and she would tell me that Elwood was not at "Normal" thyroid levels as some of the big labs would dictate. Elwood had the thyroid level of a geriatric St. Bernard, not a 1-year-old Welsh terrier.
After three days, on Synthroid, he got better--after four months of sheer torture, being unable to pat my dog. Two weeks later he acclimated to that low level of the thyroid medication (start low and build up as testing and symptoms suggest). Further testing showed his levels were good, but not as good as my vet wanted, so we increased it slightly.
Over the next year, Elwood got about 85% better with his aggression. He would lash out at me about once a month...sometimes to the daycare staff, but they had far better control over him.
After a year on the Synthroid and one of the coldest winters we've had in my Canadian city, his vet noticed that his T3s still weren't where she wanted them. In her 45-year practice, she'd noticed that when dogs are hypothyroid, and they are still symptomatic it seems to be because their T3 level is below the 2/3 mark. This is her own view and she has never done research on it. Elwood has what is known as a "conversion problem" in that, at the cellular level, he doesn't convert inactive T4 hormone into T3 hormone (the active form that makes that cell work).
She put Elwood on desiccated thyroid (dried natural pig thyroid) because it contains all the hormone that the dog needs. Immediately, Elwood got better...now he's been 100% cured for almost three years.
He has also been found to have a cortisol insufficiency (aka atypical Addison's) just a few months ago. More and more dogs seem to be facing this polyglandular disease of thyroid-adrenal or thyroid-pancreatic disease.
Over the course of the past four years, I have posted Elwood's story on many terrier groups. Thankfully, many have read it and paid attention to the details, and thankfully, many aggressive dogs have had a second chance at life. Most, like me, have tried everything and have almost given up hope, believing the only way out of the bad place might be euthanasia for their baby.
This disease has over 70 symptoms in dogs and can affect any system and cell of the body--aggression is not usually present, but from my perspective this is a primary symptom of many young Welshies, wheatens and WFTs. The more people know about it, the better.
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