Janet and Angel Luke (German Shepherd)

 

My name is Janet and my beloved epi German Shepherd was Luke.  I am a law office manager, professional belly dancer and a "single mom," but only of dogs!   
 
I lost my Luke on November 11, 2006 a day before his 10th birthday.   The sense of loss and the pain is still overwhelming at times, but I am finally able to see the triumph in Luke's story and our battle together.   Not only did we battle epilepsy, but we successfully battled lymph sarcoma and some severe gastric problems that had resulted in Luke's hospitalization.   Luke ultimately succumbed to issues that were more related to old age than anything else, and that we could not battle successfully, no one can.    When Luke was diagnosed with the lymph sarcoma at age two, and I was told even with chemotherapy to expect maybe 8 to 10 months of life, I prayed and prayed that Luke would live to die of old age.    I got what I asked for.
 
Epilepsy reared its ugly head at age 5 when Luke was securely and successfully in remission from the lymph sarcoma.    Poor Luke never got a chance to enjoy being normal and healthy, but in spite of that, he was the sweetest, gentlest, most loving dog who completely won the heart of anyone that met him, especially the many veterinarians and veterinary technicians and staff who we met along our journey.   And he was a happy boy, up until the end.    He was completely disabled the last year of his life, and I carried him in a sling.   He sweetly accepted his limitations and adapted and continued to live a good life.   When it was apparent that was no longer possible, I made the hardest decision I ever made.   But again, my prayers were answered thanks to a kind, compassionate and wonderful house call vet, Luke fell asleep for the last time lying on his blanket in the sun in his living room.    And my life will never be the same, the hole in my heart will never heal, despite the love of my two remaining German Shepherds, Betsy and Matt.
 
Luke suffered from severe cluster seizures that would sometimes go on for three days, around the clock, sometimes less than a half hour apart.   Joanne was my lifeline during these times.   I learned about the valium protocol, it helped for about a year and then his disease became resistant to it.   We coped the best we could and made the most of the time between clusters, when he lived a normal, happy life.  
 
And that is why I am here, to help others cope.    Firstly, to honor Luke's memory.   I feel, and Joanne agrees, that between the lymph sarcoma, the gastroenteritis and the epilepsy I have gained a lot of knowledge and it should not be wasted when it could help others.    Secondly, I have a great deal of compassion for all of the epi-parents especially those who have to deal with clusters.   I know about the sleepless nights, having to get through the next day at work, the pressures of having to get to work and having to leave your epi alone when its the last thing in the world you want to do, sitting at your desk on the verge of tears because your dog has been seizing and you had to come to work.   I know what happens to the mind when you have been sleep deprived for over 24 hours and how it influences your thought process, your emotions, your temper ... I was always very fearful that I would have to make the decision to let Luke go during one of those three day clusters when I was not thinking clearly.   And I will be eternally grateful that did not happen.   But I have a tremendous amount of compassion for anyone that might have and for all epi-parents in general.   And I understand the financial stresses, all too well.   And what it is like being a single woman dealing with a 120 pound dog who has severe seizures and has no use of his hind legs.  
 
I want to help.   It is very important when going through something like this, to know you are not alone.    Joanne and the Angels always were there for me day and night and I knew I was not alone.   It's time for me to give back.