A Love Story… Rescue Style

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I have to write a love story. What can I say? I love a good love story, although this will not be the boy meets girl and falls in love type story. This story begins about 4 years ago when a small, adorable English Springer Spaniel came into my life named Lila. It was love at first sight but I had no idea how our lives would change. I only knew that she was beautiful, sweet and perfect and I couldn’t wait to bring her home. I’d say a pretty typical ESRA adoption story.

Lila on her way home with me

She fit seamlessly into my and my existing Springer Linus’ life. Over time, her personality really began to show as she became more comfortable. She has such a gentle and maternal soul. She’s the Springer that takes care of Linus and I, including nightly cleanings after dinner. I must be really messy.

Lila and Linus

Last Fall, during one of our daily walks, Lila began to show some weakness in her back legs, which is not normal for a 4 year old Springer. After several tests, Lila was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease involves the body’s ability to manufacture hormones that regulate and control blood sugar levels and salt and water in the bloodstreams which maintain blood pressure, etc. The disease can be fatal if not diagnosed because many dogs go into crisis which requires emergency care. Thankfully Lila’s diagnosis occurred prior to a crisis but it was tricky because Lila’s form of Addison’s is not typical. The first test came back negative but she was continuing to decline daily. She would not eat and only wanted to lay in my lap. The vet and I decided to do a more extensive test at Michigan State University.

The second test showed that her adrenal glands were normal but her cortisol hormone levels were very low. The diagnosis was secondary Addison’s disease. This means that her form of the disease was caused by the pituitary gland at the base of her brain rather than the adrenal glands near her kidneys. Basically the pituitary gland did not tell the adrenals glands to make the hormones her body needed. The most likely reason for this is a tiny tumor on the pituitary gland. Her form of Addison’s is extremely rare. Lila is the first case of secondary Addison’s disease that my vet has seen in over 20 years of practicing medicine. Michigan State would love for me to bring her up there so they could look at her.

The treatment for Lila is a daily dose of prednisone which she will have to take for the rest of her life. This will replace the hormones that her body does not produce but will also destroy her healthy glands so that they will ultimately never be able to product the hormones.

Lila has responded well to treatment but is not back to her normal energetic self. She’s gained quite a bit of weight and is losing hair. Back we go to the vet for more blood work to check her thyroid levels. All of Lila’s tests have to be performed at Michigan State now, which involves sending her blood samples overnight. The results of the thyroid test were similar to the previous tests. Her thyroid is normal, however her pituitary gland is not sending the signal to produce the needed thyroid hormones. The treatment for this is also to provide her with the hormones that her body is not producing.

She’s still not back to her normal self, but we’re getting there. Her poor little body just needs some help and she can still develop other complications, so Lila will always need monitoring.

Ok, how is this a love story? Sounds more like a medical drama I know. This is our journey. This is indeed our love story. This is the love story of rescue.

When you rescue, you don’t know their past or anything about their parents or genetics. Sometimes you figure out things as you go along based on certain behaviors but most of the time, you really just don’t know their history. You only know that they’re with you and they depend on you and it’s your job to take care of them, especially when they weren’t take care of before.

I love her more and more every day but especially because her little body is broken. I can’t help but think that if she had not come home with me, would she have been treated? Would she have gone into a crisis and died living in the back yard? It is not unrequited love either. When she’s not feeling good, the one place she always goes is to my lap. We have an amazing bond and a trust which has only deepened through this journey of diagnosis and treatment. She looks to me to take care of her and I will do everything in my power to just that. It is the love story of rescue; girl sees homeless Springer, girl adopts homeless Springer, girl and Springer fall deeply in love. Happily Ever After

My sweet Lila