Sunday, November 7, 2010

Together One is Less Alone

I came across a picture the other day. It is of a gorgeous Tibetan Terrier from Germany named TshaTsha and her dear friend, Angela. I had to tell Angela how much I loved the pic.

Angela responded:

"The 'touching' story (for me) behind this pic is, that TshaTsha is affected by CCL and to share moments like this with her mean the world to me..... and I'm pretty sure to her too.
It is also a most wonderful book from the French author Anna Gavalda, the German title is "Zusammen ist man weniger allein" - translated into English: Together One is less Alone."
Lovely regards from Germany,

In another message, Angela told me, "TshaTsha's mother Dari died of CCL last year, she lived also with us and was such a wonderful TT... Have you seen the video about her?"

I had not seen the video so Angela sent me a link and I watched it right away. It is such a beautiful and moving video. I hope you will take a minute to watch it.
CLICK HERE to view the video.

Above: Beautiful Dari succumbed to CCL/NCL

According to the Tibetan Terrier Health and Welfare Foundation's website CCL, also know as NCL (Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis), is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease with primary lesions in the brain and eye. Behavioral changes and loss of vision in older Tibetan terriers are the most common symptoms noted by owners. Other symptoms include changes in temperament (becoming aggressive, anxious, nervous), uncoordinated gait, impaired vision under dim light conditions, loss of house training and recognition skills. Advanced stages may include mild to severe seizures, especially in the later stages. Symptoms typically first appear at 4-6 yrs of age, and progress to death or euthanasia by age 7-10 years.

Now, my dad is on the board of the Tibetan Terrier Health and Welfare Foundation so I know the Foundation is funding trials of stem cell therapy to treat CCL/NCL. The Foundation's website provides the following update:

"To date, we have treated two CCL/NCL-affected TTs with adult stem cells, here referred to as Toronto Dog and Baltimore Dog. Toronto Dog received two treatments and Baltimore Dog has had one. Both appear to have responded favorably with no ill effects associated with the stem cell administrations. Following treatment, both owners have kept in frequent contact by email and their reports are very encouraging. They are very careful to objectively describe specific tasks that the dogs can do after treatment that they could not do before treatment. Both dogs appear to have improved and are doing much better, moving better, and not suffering from the “anxiety attacks” that are characteristic of CCL/NCL. Because dog behavior is difficult to interpret, we do not want to claim that these dogs are “well” but they have improved. This improvement appears to be real based on the owner’s description of their dog’s responses in objective terms rather than subjective opinions. We will begin treating a third CCL/NCL-TT next week that is in more advanced stages of CCL/NCL.

Above: Gorgeous TshaTsha

One definition of “good science” is that “it asks more questions than it answers”. And if these initial observations hold true, we now have many more questions to ask. How long will the beneficial effects last? What is the minimum dose of cells? What is the best route of administration? Will treatment repair the vision deficits? Will treated dogs have a normal life expectancy? Will pre-instruction of the cells make them more therapeutic? Can we pre-treat an affected dog and prevent NCL from ever occurring? This is very exciting and humbling for all of us involved in this project. We will continue to treat and monitor the dogs frequently, so stay tuned………and consider supporting your friendly, hardworking Tibetan Terrier Health and Welfare Foundation.

If you would like additional information about these clinical trials being conducted at ReGena-Vet Labs, Davis, CA, contact Dr. Richard Vulliet or Pamela Rosman at"

Earlier this year, with the support of the Foundation, genetic tests became available that indicate whether a dog is clear, affected, or a carrier of CCL/NCL. The Tibetan Terrier Club of America recommends that breeders test and know their dogs CCL/NCL status prior to breeding. In addition to CCL/NCL testing, the TTCA breeding guidelines specify PPL testing and hip (OFA) and eye (CERF) certification.

The Foundation does so much work to keep Tibetan Terriers like me healthy, but it's funds are limited. I hope you will consider supporting their important work. Do it for great dogs like TshaTsha and Dari and the Tibetan Terrier(s) in your life. The Foundation's work benefits Tibetan Terriers in every country. Together we can stop CCL/NCL in its tracks. For more information, or to make a donation, visit the Foundation's website: