Dog recovering after $10,000 in scans, surgery

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Max the dog, whose family threw a concert earlier this month to raise funds for the dog’s surgery, is recovering in a Kirkland veterinarian’s office after surgery to cure a spinal injury that has caused Max to stumble.

Kristy Sholinder, mother of the Port Angeles family that owns the 5-year-old German shepherd-mix, said Max had surgery Wednesday to fix his gait.

“It went OK,” Sholinder said of the surgery.

“There’s still a chance things could go wrong, but every day that goes by drops that chance.”

She said Max had started to eat again Friday.

The surgery was aimed at restoring the overactive step to the dog, who has been confined indoors since his wobbly step set in.

Diagnosis changed

Max’s missteps originally were thought to be caused by Wobbler disease, a malady in the spine that strikes large-breed dogs, often paralyzing them.

Instead, a pre-surgery MRI and spinal tap by Dr. Sean Sanders at Seattle Veterinary Specialists in Kirkland last week revealed that the normally rough-and-tumble dog had a bone growth at the base of his neck that caused spinal fluid to build up and press against the cerebellum and brain stem.

The family vet had told them that Max’s treatment could cost approximately $7,500 to fix, more than they could afford.

Sholinder’s son, Kyle, 15, staged a benefit concert in early February to raise funds for a surgery to correct his buddy’s step.

The concert drew about 150 people and raised almost $2,800, Kristy said in a phone interview.

Jazz festival

The family was in Moscow, Idaho, this weekend while Max recovered, as Kyle played with the Port Angeles High School Jazz Band in the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho.

They planned to bring Max home from Kirkland after he is cleared for release, expected Monday.

The jazz band was one of the headline acts at the Feb. 2 “Save the Dog” concert at Olympic Vineyard Church.

In addition, the family received more than $8,000 in donations from dog lovers and current and former residents of the North Olympic Peninsula that welled several donation accounts, Kristy said, but treatment costs were higher than they expected.

The MRI and spinal tap cost around $2,500, she said. That with the surgery put costs for Max’s treatment to nearly $10,000.

Donations can still be made to the “Save the Dog” account at Sound Community Bank in Port Angeles, 110 N. Alder St., or to a PayPal account for donations at

For more information about how to help with Max’s treatment, contact the Sholinders through their Facebook page,


Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: February 23. 2013 5:38PM
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