Julie and Aisha (Shiba Inu)

My name is Julie Thompson and my epis name is Aisha (pronounced: A-sha), aka: “Binky-bear” and “Aishy-bean”.

I am married to a wonderful man named Dan, and inherited his 2 boys by marriage. Dan had sole custody of then 9 and 8 year olds, and we grew into a pretty functional step parented household. The boys are now 20 and 19 years old and have since moved out into the ‘adult world’. It is quite a change now that Dan’s kids are no longer with us, and we have focused even more of our nurturing efforts now to our fur-kids, Aisha, Rou and DJ.

Aisha is a gift of all gifts, and knowing what I know now, I would have Aisha in my life all over again, epilepsy and all. When I discovered the absolutely most stunning breed, Shiba Inu, I sang to my husband over and over again for months that I was smitten by a Shiba. I never used to be a "dog person". I had 2 cats, DJ and Taffy (who I lost to liver failure Aug 04), but when I saw a Shiba for the first time, it was an instant affinity. Shibas can be cat like in their behavior, so I think that was part of my initial attraction. A few days before Christmas in '98, Dan came home with his coat balled up in his arms, and this little curly tail hanging out of the coat. The coat started to squirm and out bolted Aisha and he immediately pooped on our kitchen floor . An instant bonding occurred with our first eye contact. This little firecracker stole my heart. I named him Aisha, which is Japanese (loosely defined) for "one's beloved". Aisha and I traveled in the car together for the first 2 days he was with me on long road trips, and I knew by that time that we had a connection that was just intense. Even at 3 months old, we just *knew* what each other was needing and thinking. He traveled well, stayed in his seat the whole trip and we had a blast.

That next day, when we were recuperating from our journeys, he was lying on the bed with me and went into a seizure. I had no idea what was happening to him and I was horrified! I thought he was dying right before my eyes. I scooped him up and took him to the vet. The vet confirmed that my description sounded like a seizure and to keep an eye on him. Not knowing that seizures could be dangerous, I didn't give it much thought, I just hoped he would ‘grow out of it’. Six months passed, Aisha and I are inseparable (my husband joking that he had been replaced) and Aisha had another seizure. I again scooped him up and raced him to the vet, bawling my eyes out the whole way. The vet ran tests and within an hour called me to tell me that Aisha had "Idiopathic Epilepsy" and gave me a bottle of PB and said this will "cure" his seizures. (Side note: I have switched vets since then!)

I decided that it was up to me to learn as much as I could on epilepsy and to take the initiative with Aisha's care. I subscribed to an epilepsy list, networked all I could, researched published articles, absorbed all the information I could find, and found a vet that was more educated on canine epilepsy. I will say that the time I have spent learning all I could has really given me the courage to battle this disease. Before I knew what I know now, I was scared to pieces and frightened of every weird move Aisha would make. By being armed with knowledge, it has given Aisha and I the freedom to enjoy each other and to not limit the things that Aisha loves to do. I still tend to go into fear on occasion, but I try and change my thought process and know that I am doing everything within my abilities to keep Aisha as healthy and seizure free as I can. And recounting all I have learned does help me relax to some degree.

I feel that Aisha was put in my life for a reason. Aisha has taught me more than I could ever have learned on my own. Aisha has taught me how to really love and to view the world with a new excitement. Aisha's exuberance and lust for life has made me realize what is really important. By learning everything I could to help Aisha, I realized that there are thousands and thousands of other "Aishas" out there with epi parents just like me. When Joanne asked me to be a Guardian Angel, I realized that I could give the comfort and guidance that I so lacked when I first was presented with Aisha's epilepsy. I really feel blessed that I can reach out to people and help give them the strength and knowledge that makes living with an epi so special.

My life has changed for the better with Aisha, but I will say that I needed to embrace the changes that were unavoidable, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We plan our vacations to include Aisha, we make sure that our days are scheduled so Aisha will be with us and I now enjoy sunrises as I make sure to give Aisha his morning meds on time. At first it did seem to be a bit overwhelming, but now, I truly enjoy spending my days with my fur-kids.

I am originally from Connecticut and grew up in total suburbia. At a very young age, I decided I wanted to move to Florida to be with my boyfriend who had moved a year prior. I lived in West Palm Beach, FL for a year and then realized that I had outgrown my feelings for him. I gathered my belongings and moved to Los Angeles, CA. I lived in the Los Angeles area for 11 years, which is where I met my husband. My husband and I decided to move somewhere where his boys could have a better childhood and not have to worry so much about the perils of living in the big city. Which is why we moved to such a rural area. I am 37 years young and my husband is 44.

When I lived in LA, I was a "booker" for the Western Division for MGM (Metro Goldwyn Mayer). I booked new theatrical releases to exhibitors (i.e.: Mann, AMC, Harkins, Cineplex, etc.) and negotiated the terms. When a bank in France bought out MGM, there were massive layoffs and I was a casualty (I still miss that job!). I then became an administrator for the corporate tax department of TCW (Trust Company of the West). When we moved to Arizona, I took all the skills I learned from MGM and TCW and opened my own business. I work out of my home and I love it. I run three businesses; my bookkeeping business, my husband’s business (he is an Electrical Contractor) and I created an online store called Ultimate Nourishment. I love working for myself. I spend each and every day with my fur-kids, which is an amazing blessing.

I love animals, and have become one of the biggest dog lovers since Aisha came into my life. I really enjoyed obedience classes with Aisha, and actually competed in a novice obedience trial. I used to own a horse when I lived in Los Angeles, and love to ride. I sold "Sassy" when we moved to Arizona (Sassy is now a polo horse). Our latest family member is Rou (which means very skilled in Japanese), who is a 2-year-old Shiba. Aisha and Rou are inseparable and just love each-other. It is amazing to witness two animals so bonded.

Well, I better conclude my novel. If you are interested, you can see more of Aisha and Rou at http://myweb.cableone.net/jasonthompson/

I would like to say that I am very grateful that I can be a Guardian Angel, and reach out to everyone to try and help. I feel such a tremendous bond with all epi parents.

Julie & Aisha