Joanne and Angels Pooh Bear and
Asia ( Dobies)
I will give you a thumbnail sketch of my background before I tell you about my adventure with canine epilepsy and the loves of my life Pooh Bear, China, Lucy and Asia.
I've had a blessed life. I was born and raised in Los Angeles as an only child and went to the Catholic convent school at San Luis Rey near Oceanside. I moved to San Francisco, went to college and earned a BA in psychology and flew the Pacific as a stewardess for Pan American Airlines where I met Howard Hughes on a flight to Japan. I was put under contract to Howard Hughes and RKO Film Studio and made a few "forgettable" films. I also raced sports cars in road races at different race tracks, much to everyone's dismay. Making films didn't hold my interest because there was too much waiting around for scenes to be shot. I just got bored. Mr. Hughes, who had become a friend, released me from my contract and arranged for me to move to New York and go into television, which had a faster pace.
In New York I started in television as a prize model on the quiz show "Top Dollar" on CBS and later became a co-host of "Video Village," another game show, also on CBS. I did a lot of fun shows like "What's My Line", "I've Got A Secret" and other talk shows. My father introduced me to Johnny Carson with whom I had a wonderful and exciting 10-year marriage. Johnny continues to be the most special man I've ever known. We raised his 3 sons from his first marriage and we were a closely knit family that included 2 adorable Yorkshire Terriers, Fluffy and Muffin.
One of the most special things that happened was becoming best friends with Truman Capote and for 20 years we were, as he said, "joined at the hip." In those 10 years with Johnny I had a chance to meet some amazingly outstanding people and became friends with a few wonderful people, mostly in the arts and entertainment field. I managed to continue those special friendships today, all these many years later.
I moved back to Los Angeles and hosted "Joanne Carson's V.I.P.'s" which was a half hour syndicated talk show about celebrities' lifestyles. I went back to college and earned my Masters in psychology and my Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry, physiology and endocrinology. I went into private practice as a metabolic therapist, rebalancing clients' metabolisms that became out of balance from stress, dieting and excesses. My private practice is very holistic dealing with "Body, Mind, Spirit."
Along with being in private practice I also I co-hosted a daily 2-hour show called "Alive and Well" on the USA cable network and created a half-hour syndicated talk show called "One to One" which I interviewed celebrities about their lives. My loves are my pups, my friends, growing roses to give them a bouquet each week and having small dinner parties.
I have been dealing with canine epilepsy for the last 12 years. It started with my beloved Pooh Bear who, along with her Doberman littermate China, found a home in my heart when they were 8 weeks old. They were beautifully matched red Dobes who made me smile every time I looked at them with their long floppy ears. In 1993 when Pooh Bear was 4 years old she had her first seizure in the middle of the night. Like many of you I was terrified! I thought she was dying of a heart attack. The next few years were a frightening adventure through the world of canine epilepsy. I cannot tell you how frightened I was of loosing her every time she had a seizure, but I was not going to give up on a helpless pup whom I loved with all my heart. I did a lot of research, talked to every knowledgeable vet and neurologist I could find and learned how to keep Pooh Bear as healthy and as happy as possible. Potassium Bromide minimized her seizures since Phenobarbital had damaged her liver.
Pooh Bear had very bad cluster seizures. She would have 12 to 20 seizures at a time within a 8 hour period which averaged every 25 days. I was advised to put her to sleep but I thought...."If she were a child and had epilepsy a parent wouldn't put it to sleep, so why would I???" Pooh Bear was my baby and whatever happened to her also happened to me. When her cluster seizures were out of control I ended up at the ER, and like many of you, astonished at what it cost. Having so many cluster seizures for 3 years caused Pooh Bear some slight brain damage but it only made her more lovable.
I fought tooth and nail for Pooh Bear. In researching canine epilepsy I found Dr. W. Jean Dodds who lived close to me and is one of this country's leading experts in thyroid disease. She tested Pooh Bear, found her hypothyroid, and put her on Soloxine (thyroid medication). Pooh Bear went from seizures every 25 days to seizures 6, 8 and 9 months apart due to the Soloxine. They were also much milder. China was Pooh Bear's "nurse" and lay next to her, with worried looks, every time she had a seizure. The two were inseparable. Whenever you saw one, the other was right next to her.
Dealing with canine epilepsy made me stronger and tapped into strengths I never knew I had. It was a blessing in disguise because it made me a more nurturing and caring person.
After dealing with Pooh Bear's seizures for 3 years, another friend of mine, Dr. Henry Heimlich of the Heimlich Maneuver, found a canine epilepsy list for me. The list saved my life. I thought I was the only one in the world with a pup with epilepsy. Through Rich Brady, one of the list members who discovered the valium protocol, I discovered two very important things. One being the value of having a supportive and reassuring voice on the phone in the middle of the night when your pup is in the throes of cluster seizures. The other was the Rectal and Oral Valium Protocol. Pooh Bear, who could suffer from 12 to 20 seizures in a cluster, never had more than the one initial seizure after using the Valium Protocol. Pooh Bear never saw the inside of an ER again.
Unfortunately, the stress from the 3 years of unstoppable cluster seizures took their toll. Two years later Pooh Bear was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma cancer which moved like wildfire through her little body. Five weeks later, Pooh Bear, the most beautiful "child" and the love of my life, died in my arms on August 2, 1998. Before she died I promised her I would devote the rest of my life and all of my resources to help find answers for canine epilepsy and help those who were dealing with it.
In Pooh Bear's memory I created the Epi Guardian Angels. I chose the brightest and the most caring people I knew who had a background in canine epilepsy and who had the time and heart to help others in need. They became the Epi Guardian Angels and you will find their bio's very interesting to read.
Somewhere along here my friend Betty White called me to tell me that a little stray who was born on the street needed a home. She was a 2-month-old little Beagle/Shepherd/Huskie mix who walked right into my heart. I named her Lucy. Lucy is the clown princess of my home and heart. She is Miss Personality Plus.
Now we come to my sweet little Asia who definitely wrapped me around her little paw. On a cold Christmas morning in 1998 I went on my yearly journey of bringing toys and treats to the pups waiting for homes at the Doberman Rescue Center here in Los Angeles. I was not looking for a pup. I had just lost Pooh Bear 4 months earlier and I was still hurting. There was a 10-month-old trembling and frightened little girl with pussy willow brown eyes, who never took her eyes off of me all morning. She shyly came up to me for treats but cowered when I lifted my hand up to pet her. She had been badly abused by someone who had broken her leg and had not had it set so she had a really bad limp. She was a red Dobe and looked as if she could have been Pooh Bear's pup. I was told that she might never find a home because she had seizures and no one wanted to deal with them. That sweet little face haunted me until I just went back and brought her home, seizures and all. Asia was my Christmas gift from Angel Pooh Bear.
Asia had seizures a few times a week and was immediately put on Potassium Bromide. Dr. Dodds tested her and found her hypothyroid. Asia was put on Soloxine and after 10 weeks, Asia stopped having seizures. We weaned her from bromide and she went two blessed years without a seizure. Asia did not have epilepsy, she was hypothyroid and only needed thyroid medication to stop her from seizing.
In 2000, my beloved China, who was the
best behaved and sweetest little girl in the world, was diagnosed with bone cancer.
My gallant and courageous China died in my arms October 1st last year. Along with
breaking my heart I lost my last link to Pooh Bear.
Kisses to all your puppers and hugs to each of you...
Joanne, Lucy, Zoe and Angels Pooh Bear, China and Asia
Epi Guardian Angels
Joanne Carson, Ph.D.,
Los Angeles, California