This page is dedicated to the many dogs who sadly gave their lives to EPI, and to their owners, who struggled with this horrible disease treating their faithful companions, some with success and some with failure but always with hope. Many of these EPI dogs are extraordinary souls who so deeply touched our lives with a love so strong and with such loyalty that they forever changed our lives. May their legacy never be forgotten.
Hi, Mum.. Dad...
Now that I’ve been across The Rainbow Bridge for a couple weeks, they said I should write a letter home. Sorry, mum, but I’m so busy ‘across the bridge’ that I haven’t thought of home much. They said it’s okay and that you would understand. I hope you do. (I think you will.)
Remember that night when I wasn’t feeling very well and we were all crying? I don’t remember much, but I do remember seeing and hearing all of you and feeling your touches and hugs…I remember hearing “we love you” and that one last command of “Go through”. I didn’t know what you meant, so I turned around and walked through the fog that was in front of me. I saw the biggest bridge I’ve ever seen! And so many friends on the other side of it! They were all playing with toys and balls! You were right to tell me to go there!
My feet kept moving forward, but my heart kept pulling me back. Your touches became lighter and lighter and I wanted to come back and nudge your hands for more love, but I was overcome by this feeling of curiosity for the happy place over the bridge! My feet started moving on their own, like a gentle breeze was moving them forward for me! I can’t explain it, but I had no doubt that it was the right thing to do!
So, I walked across that big, huge bridge by myself! I looked for you, because you’re always by my side, walking with me, but this was different. I didn’t have a collar around my neck or a leash connecting me to you ~ I was ‘free’! Even though you weren’t there with me, I never felt alone! I actually felt like I had a huge cape of love wrapped around my body and the more I walked, the easier it was to breathe! So, I kept walking! And I would feel more warmth in the big hug, so I kept on walking! I eventually made it over the big bridge – I did it by myself, mum!
When I got here, all of my new friends greeted me and helped me walk off the bridge ~ it was so cool! They gave me a pair of wings and said that I was now a Guardian Angel!
What I’ve learned over these past few weeks has been amazing and nothing like I’ve seen before! We’re all the same up here ~ we all have wings and we all have Forever People to watch over ~ that’s YOU, mum!You’re my Forever Person and I’m your Forever Dog! We had such a great life together and I do miss you a LOT, but please know that I am so happy in my new home across The Bridge!
I’ll send you another Earth Angel so you won’t be alone. Give them your whole heart, like you gave it to me. I’ll check in every so often to make sure they treasure your love ~ I always did! When you miss me, think of a rainbow and know I’m on the other side of it, waiting to walk with you again. I’ll always be in your heart. I love you, mum! Time for me to go play
Here i am......see me !!
Sept 6, 2007 ~ June 21, 2017
was born on September 6, 2007. My
recollection of his journey home is tattooed on my heart and in my mind. Asleep in my bed, he did not cry to go out,
nor because he missed his mom. For now,
I was his mom. Kain took well to my then
3 year old GSD, Angel. She would snarl
and snap, but in the end she not only tolerated him, she was quite fond of him.
often referred to Kain as one of my triplets as he was raised aside of my
identical twin daughters, only months separating him and Eva and Mia in
age. I thought my world was turned
upside down when Kain was diagnosed with EPI. Kain was trained as a puppy, in basic training and Good Citizenship
tested. He enjoyed agility and was a blood
donor dog for Valley Central Animal Hospital. Kain
and I worked together to create the PA/NJ EPI Dog Event which I was fortunate
enough to have for 2 years at the Bethlehem Dog Park in Bethlehem PA. We obtained sponsorship from well know
companies like Kong, Newman’s Own Organics, K9 Enzymes, Taste of the Wild,
Honest Kitchen and many others. Hand
feeding Kain became the norm and eventually Kain developed an eating disorder
and was forced fed. I know that many
others suffer with the same issue with their EPI dogs, so Kain and I decided to
make an informational video to assist other families who suffer with the
same. Not every dog will eat on their
own. Sometimes teasers simply do not work. So when eggs or parmesan cheese fails you, you still have hope! If I could have force fed my boy for ten more
years despite the time it consumed, I would still be doing it today. I always thought Kain’s journey in life would
end when he decided to not accept the food at all. That simply was not the case. In March of 2016 we lost our 11 ½ year old
German Shepherd Angel. Our hearts were
aching and in May we brought home our new German Shepherd Karma. Karma filled the void Angel left for Kain. She gave him life again.
day on a long walk last May, I noticed Kain’s paw pads were raw and bleeding. His nails were worn. I dismissed it as too long of a walk on too
hot of a day. Once his paws were back to
normal he attempted another walk and yielded the same results. I started noticing some dragging in the rear
legs and a ten pound loss of weight. He
was losing muscle mass rapidly. I knew
it was Degenerative Myelopathy and I knew it was a matter of time until my boy
would no longer walk. In January Kain
got his cart also known as a doggie wheelchair.
With the snowy Pennsylvania weather it would be some time until I could
get him out in it. The first day in his
cart was AWESOME! Kain was like a puppy
again and was pulling me at a fast pace.
As weeks went by I noticed he would slip on the hard wood floor but had
traction on the carpet. Stairs were off
limits so we slept together on the first floor.
When I left for work Kain and Karma stayed in my office and typically
Kain was found on the couch when I walked in.
He started to have trouble getting up on the couch and his rear legs
looked pigeon toed and crossed over one another as he walked. He loved to play with Karma, he was still
alpha to her. It pains me to type this
as I think back to remember Kain’s final weeks.
As days turned into weeks, Kain slowly could not walk. I put him in “hospice care” in my home. No stranger to tweaking things or making
things easier for those who are suffering, I applied the same logic to caring
for Kain as I did for my own parents before they passed. I fenced off a greater part of my fenced in
yard not allowing Karma or Kain to have access to a large part of the
yard. They exited to the yard via the
garage floor which was painted and was easy for Kain to “slide” on. With assistance he managed to get in and out
of his back yard with ease.
I knew that Kain would tell me when it was time, and he did. When my boy was barely able to take a step and was forced to drag his body to move, he and I both knew it was time. I attempted to make his last summer was his best summer filled with assisted walks, pool parties and on his last day he ate his “normal” meal followed by an untreated steak, bone and all. A piece of my heart will always be empty. I’ve learned that every dog holds a special place in your heart. Kain will never be forgotten.
Forever in our Hearts, Nicole, Eva & Mia
Darcy (aka Farfel)
1/23/2004 ~ 7/19/2017
This dog. I fell in love with Darcy (aka Farfel) from the moment I saw his sad eyes looking out from that giant kennel, bright pink skin from allergy and infection, neglected by his owner for reasons I cannot fathom. Darcy was a once in a lifetime dog. I was his person and he made sure that I knew it. He made me laugh most every day in the 9 years I got to have him. He was a troublemaker - he liked to hump the other dogs, start scuffles, engage them in mischief, always getting into something -, but was equally as sweet.
His watery eyes, crazy fur from the allergies he suffered, sway back and flipper feet only made him cuter, only made me love him more. He had the most joyful soul of any dog I’ve ever known. He sang, not because of sirens in the distance, but from the sheer pleasure of it. A regular serenade that I’m sure made the neighbors wonder. He was always wherever I was, staring at me until I would notice, and then swirling his tail as if to say, ‘just making sure you’re ok’.
I have thought many times of the email I received from KC Sheltie Rescue titled, “the saddest dog I’ve ever seen” with photos of Darcy, sick, sad, struggling, and in need of a foster. Who would have guessed looking at those photos that he was really the happiest boy and full of joy for life?
What else can I say about a dog whose entire life was spent trying to make mine more joyful? I’m not quite sure I will ever stop missing him. I can’t imagine it right now.
Farfel, you were the gift of joy and happiness that I didn’t always deserve. How I wish I could have fixed you. Rest now, sweet little man.
You will forever be in my broken heart.
Your loving mom, Mary Ann
Feb 15 2015-June 11 2017
We rescued Khaleesi at the age of 1. She was diagnosed with EPI 3 months after we got her. 6 months ago, she had a bout of HGE, and we almost lost her. Unfortunately, it happened again, and she was not able to overcome it this time. Khaleesi was a part of the EPI Metabolic Research Study conducted by Dr Parick Barko at the University of Illinois. She was only on this earth for a short 2 years, but she left her mark, not only in our hearts, but in the world of EPI. Her contributions will hopefully shed some light into the diagnosis and treatment of EPI for others that follow in her footsteps. Khaleesi had so much love to give, she absolutely loved to be loved and love right back. I have never met such a loving and snuggly dog. We gave her the best life while she was on this earth, and she filled our hearts with her sweetness. It is not fair that she had to endure all that she did, but we pray that she has brought awareness and helped others. Khaleesi was our world changer and we will really miss her.
Forever in our hearts,
Shannon & famly
23 January 2008 - 10 June 2017
I first met the boy who would later be called Kobe, when he was only one day old. I got to watch him eat, sleep and play with all his siblings and referred to him as the "boygirl" because my oh my, was he affectionate. He always wanted to be held, rocked to sleep like a baby with his piercing green eyes and silver colours, it was impossible to not fall in love with him. When the day came to welcome him to his new home, he met the love of his life, Brandi. She was 5 when they fell in love. Being a staffy herself she was affectionate towards him, unless it involved food. She instinctively wanted to protect him, even when he was big enough that she would stand under his belly. They would play, sleep, lick each other and get up to all types of mischief together throughout the years. Nicknamed Bonnie & Klyde as it seemed they would suddenly grow hands, open doors, cupboards, furniture.. you name it. If he was up on the couch with you and if he wasn't already laying on you, he had to be touching your hand, leg, anything. That's also the reason he was called Kobe the cat, the affection he showed was unwavering, combined with his majestic ears.
In October 2009 things changed, although he was still doing the things that he would always do, he started having constant diarrhea, up to 6 or 7 times a day. What went in, went out, rapidly. After multiple vet visits, I was googling Kobe's symptoms and came across the life changing website and forum, epi4dogs. From the moment he was diagnosed with EPI, I would spend countless hours on the forum, talking to the many other owners that had experience with it first hand. Being in Perth, Australia, I would stay up until 4 or 5am. It was one of the most daunting experiences I had yet to encounter in my life. My vet didn't seem to have much knowledge so I was relying solely on people at the time such as Olesia, Ann, Lynn for their guidance and recommendations on what to do. It took 6 months for Kobe to get stable, throughout that time we tried 4 different antibiotics, B12 therapy and changed his food. I knew first hand that there were others that had conquered the EPI diagnosis and I did everything to be one of those. Even when my vet at the time said I should start to think on what's right for Kobe, also known as, he isn't responding you should think about letting him pass. Nope. Nothing is going to stop me, I knew there was a way to get him stable I just needed to find the right balance. And I eventually did and I also changed vet clinics.
From there he remained on B12 injections, Creon of course and his diet. Before Kobe started having these symptoms he was a solid 40kgs, which dropped to just over 33kgs. It took time for him to regain the weight that he had lost. For 7 years I would come home from work every day to feed him lunch.
Kobe lived with EPI for almost 8 years. There were hiccups along the way, SIBO which we would battle with Tylan every 12-18 months or so, but we had a grip on it. The daunting days were behind us, we knew what to do and when to do it. We also knew that we had epi4dogs to turn towards for comfort, confidence and guidance. And when we needed them like a bell, the epi4dogs angels were there.
As May 2017 came around,
something changed. Although Kobe wasn't having frequent episodes, the quality
had deteriorated. After 2 weeks of weekly B12 and Tylan, there was no change.
We went to the vet on 16 May and she recommended increasing Creon as all
results were normal. I tried this for a week and went back to the vet on 24
May. Something is not right, and although it may look like a symptom of EPI, I
know it's not. The following day Kobe had an abdominal ultrasound which didn't
show too much, apart from water in his belly as he had begun to drink more
which I had also noted to the vet and slightly enlarged adrenal glands.
Following the ultrasound he started vomiting. For a boy that vomited about 5
times in his life, once again I knew something was not right. On 26 May I took
him back to the vet for LDDST tests to test for Cushing's disease. He was still
unwell and they kept him on fluids that afternoon. The following morning he was
very, very low and did not want to eat. I took him back to the vet and his
white blood cell count was very high. They were also going to do further
analysis on the WBC to determine which was the contributing cause. By the early
evening that same day I took him to emergency and he was in shock, so was
admitted and remained there until Monday morning when I could meet with the
internal medicine specialist. He was of the opinion that based on what had been
happening, it was a case of gastroenteritis. Kobe came home with various
medications for the nausea and we kept at it for a few days.
Within 3 days, he was vomiting,
passing stools without knowing and wouldn't eat again. I took him back to
emergency. Another ultrasound that day showed various, significant changes in
his abdomen, including disease and severe ulceration, to the point where
perforation was highly possible. The sudden changes in an ultrasound in 1 week
took everyone by complete shock. Our plan from there was for an endoscopy and
further ultrasound to be done, following the long weekend as a scope at that
time would be high risk. During that time I decided that hospital was the best
place for Kobe, for him to remain hydrated and under careful observation given
the state of his insides. On 6 June a repeat ultrasound was done which showed a
vascular mass on Kobe's pancreas. In less than 2 weeks, something was there
that wasn't there before. A CT scan was done which showed the size and impact
of the mass. Removing it would result in death, biopsy of the tissue and
surrounding tissue would likely result in death. And there would be nothing to
gain for it, as what they believe it was, Gastrinoma, could not be treated.
Although it wasn't 100% confirmed, based on Kobe's clinical symptoms and the
aggressive, sudden, severe intestinal disease and ulceration, it was highly
probable to be the answer.
Kobe came home that night and he was as full of life as ever, chasing his ball, playing, eating, sparkling eyes and of course his gorgeous happy face. The only treatment I could provide to him was anti nausea medications and a gut protectant, which was merely treating the side effects of the tumour temporarily. No cure, no hope.
Kobe lived his last days doing
what he loved the most, being surrounded by those that he loved and loved him
unconditionally. I decided he had been through enough in those 2 weeks alone
and wanted to spare him from any further pain that would be coming to him. I
didn't know what it was like for him to eat, did it hurt, was it uncomfortable,
does it burn, why does he drink straight after he eats, is that because he
feels something on the inside? No one knew the answers, but presumably as he
was eating and clinically stable, that meant he was doing okay. His stoic
nature made that impossible to know as he had to get very, very low to the
point of being in shock, to show me he wasn't okay. And I couldn't do that to
Kobe, my Superman, passed to the rainbow bridge on Saturday, 10 June 2017 in the comfort of his own home, wrapped in my arms on his favourite blanket with his favourite toy. My heart stopped with his.
Please always remember that EPI
is not a death sentence. Kobe as well as many other fur kids on epi4dogs are
living proof of that. We feel the strain on your heart, the worry, the
uncertainty, the dark days. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our
babies with EPI can have a normal, happy, love fulfilled life like any other.
We devote our lives to them and they rely on us as owners that no sickness,
illness or diagnosis will ever change that. There is proper, manageable
treatment available for EPI with the use of enzymes, antibiotics and B12
therapy and I would do it all again, one hundred millions times over and would
encourage anyone and everyone else to do the same. I learnt from him what
unconditional love is. What it does, what it means, how it makes you into the
person that you are.
Run free my love, we miss you with our every heartbeat. Sam and Brandi.
Onza 2005 - 2017
We lost our beloved Onza, a Kirschental line of German Shepherd Dogs, on March 31 due to complications from cancer which was diagnosed 6 weeks prior. Onza was always a very happy dog. She was stoic, strong-willed and so determined to live. She did many things in spite of EPI, double hip dysplasia, elbow surgery, autoimmune disease and bloat with volvulous last summer.
Onza was diagnosed with EPI at 4 years old and we were devastated to realize our young GSD could die because of this. Finding the epi4dogs website, Olesia and the forum as a support group gave us hope and support. With the help of our vets, the epi4dogs website and keeping a log of medications, food, meals and enzymes, we were able to successfully manage her EPI and make adjustments in her regimen when indicated. Never once did we dread or get frustrated at having to make four meals for her each day for seven years because we knew this was giving her life. We knew she realized the extra care and love we gave her, and she returned that love ten-fold each day of her life. Onza loved all our friends and family and was quite sure they always came to “see her” and not us! She really loved and was always excited to see everyone, even both of her vets.
We have always tried to spread the word about EPI and the website. We have handed out countless pamphlets and talked to total strangers about EPI. Through the forum we became friends with people we never met, even in other countries. At our mountain cabin 200 miles away, by telling the local pet shop owner about EPI and the website, she relayed the information to a client. The German Shepherd Dog, Ranger, tested positive for EPI, and we have become very close friends with Ranger’s mom. She reminds us often that we “saved her dog’s life”. Unfortunately, Ranger passed away this past December at 11 years old due to hip issues. With our dear friend, we continue to share stories and things about our experience with EPI and now we are sharing in the loss of both of our German Shepherd Dogs.
We did Schutzhund training with Onza to help focus her intense alpha-female energy, and she always loved to work and please us. She was an excellent tracker and liked bite work as well; we enjoyed the obedience. She always amazed us with her intelligence and ability to figure out things.
At 11 years old we knew her time was limited on this earth. At night when we wanted to relax and read or watch TV but she wanted to play, we’d look at each other and say ‘let’s get up and play because she will not be here forever’. It is impossible to believe that now she is gone. Onza was our once in a lifetime dog of 47 years with German Shepherd Dogs in our family. She was the closest thing that we will ever have to a child and the loss is devastating. Our house now feels very empty and is missing the heartbeat that gave us so much joy. So please hug your dog or cat for us and never once regret having to do the extra things for them because they have EPI. They are all so worth it! Onza, forever in our hearts, Donna and William