Our hearts were broken over the loss of our two dogs, a female and male (Belle passed on Valentine's Day and Buddy Lee passed a few months later of a broken heart) who grew up together from puppies until the very end. They were the joy of our lives. After their passing, we vowed we could never get another dog. How could we? The grief was deep, and still hurts today.
It wasn’t long, we changed our minds after numerous discussions. We decided that if our two beloved dogs had such an impact in our lives, it would be wrong to never share that joy and happiness once again with another dog. We knew they could never be replaced, but discussed how different they each were and that’s what made time with them, so special. They were unique.
That is where Gretel Luna came into our lives. She was a little 8-week old German Shepherd with life and playfulness that touched our hearts. She was the last of two pups left from a litter of 12. We decided that the puppy who was first to rough house with the other AND win would be the puppy we would choose. Hence, Gretel Luna was the lucky girl that day! We brought her home and it was obvious we had made the right decision. She helped heal our broken hearts. She was quite intelligent from the very beginning and loved to play. We learned quickly that she wasn’t the type you could scold for less than perfect behavior. She responded best with a soft-spoken voice or discussion over the matter. As Gretel quickly grew from a small to large puppy, which seemed to happen overnight! Gretel LOVED all training and was started in IPO due to her great nerve and drive, but experienced horrible bouts of Panosteitis. The only other issue that we had with Gretel, in her first year, was the fact that we could never transition her off of her multiple meals per day as she would vomit bile. We always chalked it up to her high-energy & metabolism and we just accommodated it, our vet agreed.
Right after Gretel's first birthday, we spent a week at our vacation home in AZ. During this week, we decided to try out a recommended dog-trainer in the area, Gretel had a private lesson and also attended a group lesson, the same evening and enjoyed playing with a young GSD puppy. The very next day is when our lives changed forever! While on our morning walk, Gretel experienced projectile diarrhea and this continued for the next 36 hours until we could get it under control. This a dog that NEVER goes potty in the house and/or anywhere else, but her "outside potty area". Not knowing what Gretel had gotten into, the trainer was contacted and we found out that the puppy had been sick and we thought that Gretel had possibly caught something from it. We got back home to CA and it all started again. Gretel was taken to her vet, immediately, several blood, fecal & urine panels & tests were done...all to come back negative. Over the next few months, Gretel continued to have "unexplained" bouts of diarrhea. We tried everything...bottled water, diet changes, antibiotics, probiotics with no changes! We were told that Gretel had "stress colitis" which we NEVER believed due to her outgoing personality with strong drive & nerve.
Approximately 5-6 months later, we noticed that Gretel had lost a lot of weight, it seemed like over-night, and she was eating double, if not triple the amount of her food. Gretel was rushed to our vet again, luckily, we were seen by a different vet at the same practice. Gretel was finally tested for EPI and it's companion tests and we finally had our diagnosis in July of 2016. At this time, Gretel was put on a Rx diet, enzymes, more antibiotics, probiotics and B12 injections and with really no formal directions and/or instructions, we really didn't know how to use the enzymes, however, after much online research and finding the Epi4Dogs Foundation, Inc., the FaceBook page: EPI - Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency in Dogs and also Enzyme Diane we were on our way to Gretel's recovery. After about a week on the enzymes, we started to see improvements and solid, formed stools...as we all like to say, "It's all about the poop!" Since Gretel's diagnosis, we have only had a tiny bout of diarrhea, but this was completely my fault, as I ran out of her "necessary" enzymes which a lesson quickly learned and will NEVER be repeated. It's now almost a year later...we are happy to report that Gretel is a very well-maintained EPI dog who just recently had her "healthy" annual vet exam and weighed in at a lean 90 lbs. Today, she still eats 4x per day, small meals, as she will still vomit bile and like anything else, she has her good and bad days and does have issues with SIBO/SID, but her daily maintenance dosage of Tylan seems to keep it in check and she also requires weekly B12 injections. All EPI dogs and their daily maintenance are different, and we've found our daily schedule that works for our Gretel. We try to keep Gretel as normal as possible and she enjoys hiking on the PCT which is right in our Mount Laguna, CA backyard, playing Frisbee AND we're also happy to announce that this last week she earned her AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title.
People hear our story and tell us how lucky Gretel is to have us. Our reply is always the same, we are lucky to have Gretel. She helped mend two people's broken hearts. We found love again. She is unique and she is loved. We can’t imagine our lives without her.