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

Halloween Costumes…. To Make or Not to Make

I love the Fall with its beauty.  I do admit to some sadness at the end of summer but once Fall starts up with the changing leaves, the fresh apples and cider in our local orchard, the opening of the pumpkin patch and some cooler evenings spent snuggling with my favorite Springer Spaniels I am completely on board.

And of course, there’s Halloween which can be such fun for humans but not always for our canine friends.  That’s not the topic of this blog, however, please remember to keep your pets safe during this time of year.  What I’m really wondering about today is … dog costumes.  I had a Springer named Wembley and he LOVED to trick or treat with the kids.  Normally I think this is not a great idea for dogs because it can be very stressful for them and potentially unsafe.  Wembley, however, was unique in so many ways.  So, my sister and I dressed him up for several years and took him through our neighborhood with my niece Brittney and nephew Nathan to gather treats.   He was a huge fan of treats and would do just about anything to gain one.  My sister, being the creative one, was in charge of costume design.  He was batman, which was a hit with the male trick or treaters, a gift wrapped Christmas package one year and the traditional hot dog.  He loved greeting all the people and they loved seeing him.  When Brittney and Nathan went up to each house, he went right along with them because he was one of the kids.  Wembley has been gone for several years now and gave up his trick or treating as he aged.


Even though I no longer go trick or treating, I find that I still dress my dogs up in costumes, especially if attending this year’s English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) costume party on Instagram and Facebook.  Linus and Lila will be there for sure!  There are prizes and I’m a sucker to see all the dogs in costume.  It’s so much fun.

Now comes the part that requires much thought.  Costumes!  What should Linus and Lila be for Halloween?  How do people decide?  How many others dress up their dogs in costumes?  I think a lot of people do much to the dismay of their best four-legged friends.  I’m going to need to do some research for Lila anyway.  Linus was named after Linus Van Pelt of the Charlie Brown series and I have wanted to dress him like Linus for so many years and this year is the year.  But what about Lila?  She is also named after a lesser known Charlie Brown character and that could be an option.  Lila was Snoopy’s first owner who had to give him up when her family moved into an apartment that did not allow dogs.  Not exactly my Lila’s story but she has a happy ending like Snoopy regardless.

So, back to my research.  Each year ESRA has a Halloween party on Facebook and Instagram.  Let’s check out the competition and see if we can get some ideas.

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Wow!  This looks like serious competition.  I could be in big trouble here.  I no longer live near my creative sister.  I have this really creative co-worker that can make anything and she convinced me that I should MAKE their costumes.  What was I thinking?   I mean Amazon will deliver in 2 days!

Linus’ costume wasn’t too difficult.  He wears a red shirt with stripes and carries a blue blanket.  Surely I can draw some black lines on a red shirt.  I’m going to need some pumpkins too, if he’s to be in the pumpkin patch looking for The Great Pumpkin.  It seems clear that Lila will need to be Lucy Van Pelt aka Linus’ sister.  I’m going to need to make her a dress and some “Lucy hair”.  All I can say is it’s not Thanksgiving but I am so thankful for three things; glue guns, my sister-in-law and my mom.

I think they look great!  Linus and Lila think they prefer the treats that I’m giving them instead of these clothes I have put on them.  I have no idea if they will win any prizes but they both get top awards from me for being fantastic models and good sports.  Lila’s Lucy hair, in particular, is hilarious.  Wait, you didn’t think I was going to show them to you on this blog, did you?  If you want to see their homemade costumes, you’re gonna to have come to the ESRA Halloween Pawty on October 31.  Links to ESRA’s Facebook and Instagram accounts are on the bottom of the page.

What will your dog be this year?  Will you make your costume?  Is your Springer going to be scary or funny?  I can’t wait to see.

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