I'm sorry for your loss.
Just wanted to point out that one of the problems with dcm is that you never know who / if ... Even if you lost Kady's brother at 7, she may have lived to 13. It's very hit and miss. There are dogs that live to be 14 who produce young dogs lost to dcm. There are dogs who died at 5 of dcm that produce long-lived offspring. You really never know.
That said, responsible breeders are using the tests available - regular cardiac ultrasounds, regular Holter monitoring, the 2 DNA tests we have, some do proBNP testing. Some knowledgeable owners do the same in order to start early treatment if a problem is detected. Responsible breeders use pedigree research and the longevity database to try to concentrate longevity into the pedigrees. Even then, problems can still occur but hopefully it is minimal. But even when minimal overall, you've devastated the owners no matter how few of them were affected.
The proBNP testing looks interesting, that's not one that was on my radar. I'm also curious about the titin mutation topic but I'll have to keep an ear to the ground on that front, as it looks relatively new and I'm not sure how good of a predictor it actually is (or whether it's just another important piece of the puzzle).
Kady's brother lived a couple states away with my cousin, but they visited often and the dogs loved one another. After the news of his passing, I knew that it was just a roll of the dice for her. It wasn't so much that because he died, that I thought she was doomed - it was more that his death was a sobering reminder that I should appreciate all the time I had with her, whether it was 6 months (as it turned out to be) or several more years. Kady's aunt (daughter of kady's grandsire) is alive and well at 12, and Kady's uncle (same sire as auntie) lived to 10.5 before succumbing to digestive issues.
I am still so grateful for the 8 years that I got with her. I know many others lose their dogs much sooner at 3, 4, 5... With her, it was over so fast. She made something of a funny sound (like a sigh) and when I looked over at her she was in full seizure mode - eyes wide open, mouth half open, legs outstretched. Her heartbeat was irregular and breaths were very shallow if they were there at all. Maybe 15 seconds later I thought I couldn't feel a pulse I did CPR for a couple minutes.. but I knew she was gone after awhile. It's not like paramedics were on their way and the nearest 24/hr vet hospital is close, but not close enough. I had to try.
Later (this week) I would read about some of the symptoms of DCM including the odd dry "cough" she would experience here and there. Never a fit, just one or two short clearings of the throat. It wasn't always associated with exercise, and it never lasted for more than one or two coughs. I figured something she was chewing on or a piece of fuzz was stuck in her throat. Even during these few and far-between episdoes, she never showed any signs of distress or fatigue or change in affect. Always alert, always super loving, and very insistent on being covered up with her head on the tempurpedic pillow in the center of the bed (taking up enough room for 2 humans). Eager to play, eager to train, eager to eat and drink plenty of water... I don't know if I'm just associating "symptoms" in retrospect or if the second I heard her clear her throat I should have been scheduling a new holter/ecg. I'll be paranoid about it in the future, but better safe than sorry. I don't want to go too far down the "if only I had done x, y, and z" path, but I certainly want to learn and grow and do the best that I can for my next dog.
Via M&D: "Some knowledgeable owners do the same in order to start early treatment if a problem is detected.
So... Let's talk about DCM. I have never seen totally reliable stats, but the general consensus is the 50%-60% of Dobermans will be affected by Dilated Cardio Myopathy at some point.
We had a boy who went down with SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome) due to Ventricular Tachycardia due to DCM at almost 6yo. He survived (barely) due to a quick diagnosis and triage. Fortunately, with meds, he lived a good life to an average age.
I said: "Never again".
Our youngest had a full cardio workup by a well respected canine cardiologist, including a 24 hour Holter, an Echocardiogram, a full blood panel and a complete physical at 3.
He passed with flying colors.
The cardio vet said that I should bring him back a 5yo. It would be a better indicator of potential heart problems.
He will revisit them in a couple of months.
McCoy has very good canine health insurance and should a problem be detected early on, the chance of him living a normal life is pretty good. Although, it is certainly not a given.
Dogs with heart disease are pretty much treated just like humans. No guarantee, but an early diagnosis and treatment seriously increases the chance of longevity. It can be expensive.
We were lucky with our other boy. With Many Dobe owners, their first experience with DCM/SDS/V-Tach ends in a dead dog. Quickly.
So... I am committed to regular testing and maintaining a quality insurance policy on my baby.
I feel somewhat ashamed for not having been better informed. Maybe ashamed is too strong a term... regretful? I've probably got 30 hours or so in the last week doing nothing but learning everything I can about the subject. I guess I've just been lucky despite my ignorance. Lucky to have not had to experience it until now.
I remember (as a young kid) my grandmothers' dobermans being old dogs, and when one would pass away they'd be buried in the front yard by the side gate with their gone-but-not-forgotten buddies. They were always sweethearts. I remember being in High School (grown out of my more sentimental childhood years - now angsty and teenaged) having a deep respect for my Uncle's extremely driven female. I loved her, but she was a working dog and we only saw each other a few times a year. My uncle worked with Mali and GSD K9 trainers in the San Antonio area for several years as a volunteer/hobbyist. I remember taking some bites from them and being in awe of their drive and discipline. When I finally graduated from college in San Diego I moved to TX and was working closely with my uncle on our new company (and with his 3 year old male Dobe) I was finally free of school and working for myself. I was 24. It was time for me to start my own journey with a dog. Of course I had to have a Doberman. We got Kady and her brother for me and my cousin (who was 13 at the time).
We now had a crew of 3 red Dobies from the same line, 2 littermates (F and M) and the old experienced uncle (M). They spent days playing together, nearby in the shop, or running around the yard, or crated in shifts as the need arose - while we worked - and Kady came home with me in the evenings and spent her youth on several acres in TX hillcountry. We trained and trained, mostly obedience, but some nose work and a little bit of bite work. We played with every type of ball. We chewed every type of toy. Tennis balls were her absolute favorite, (sacred gifts from the dobie-gods as far as she was concerned) and mostly used as training incentive. We and spent every waking and sleeping hour together. She came with me on work road trips all across the United States. We spent a few years on the road together building up our business. We slept in dozens of Walmart parking lots together in the back of a Suburban, bundled up in a blanket and a thin mattress pad. We've sneaked into hotels that didn't allow dogs when it got too cold (I'm not kidding, she would down and stay while I went around and opened the window on the ground floor, and she'd jump in!). We've played in rivers and snow and deserts and at beaches and barely spent a single minute apart. We lived in NM for a few years after TX. She loved riding in the Jeep with the top and doors off. She loved the water; rivers, lakes, beaches, you name it. Hell, she even loved rock crawling, often standing with a paw on 4 different surfaces (seatback, side panel, seat bottom, headrest) while we crawled up rocks in NM in the Jeep. She loved the high-desert, running off and exploring while we fixed a broken jeep or analyzed a tricky trail. Eventually our business was successful (oil and gas has its ups and downs), and finally, a couple years ago, we moved back to Southern California where I grew up. I worked from home. We'd go play on the beach at night and she'd run and run through the sand (and frequently decide to chase waves and try and bite them) and come home wet and sandy. We'd walk on the strand and meet lots of interesting people and dogs. At home, she liked to alternate between sunshine on the grass in the front yard, and air conditioning with her head on the pillow in bed. She always preferred the Tempur-Pedic California king, tucked into her blanket with her head on the pillow. Spoiled brat! She deserved it.
For the greater part of 6 years we were in unfamiliar places while I worked my butt off (with her alongside me) during the day, and spent all my evenings and free time with her. I simply didn't have many close friends around - she was my whole world through most of my adult life. We were partners. I would be a completely and entirely different person without her. I am a better person having loved her.
I think what my point is, or what I'm trying to convince myself, is that I was simply ignorant of most of the Dobie world that I see on these forums today. I always considered myself a relative "expert" because I had a well trained dog (we had several) and I've been around these dogs since I could remember. But I didn't take as much time to really search out other Dobie-people until now. I just hope that I didn't let her down by learning about some of this stuff the hard way. I just want to learn and be better. I'll be better for future dogs when I'm ready.
On that note, I'm ready to gear up and be as prepared as possible. I know I can't control everything, and I have to accept the things I can't change and work hard to change the things I can moving forward. I thank you all for your kind support, for your patience, and for your dedication to the breed. I look forward to continuing to learn and give back to others, people and dogs alike! One of our first work road trips! The muddiest the inside (and outside) of my Jeep ever got! New Mexico high desert exploration! She loved swimming, and near-obsessively chased waves/wakes/splashes! Spoiled TempurPedic Dog! Jeep Dog in NM The SACRED tennis ball