Kimberley Nelson is a blogger who writes about Rolo her special needs dog with Epilepsy in Confessions Of A Rescue Mom. She and her soon to be husband are unique because they adopted their dog knowing that he had this disease and would need constant care and attention. This is their story.
By Kimberley Nelson
After we purchased our first home in Fort McMurray, AB, Canada we knew our home would not be complete until we filled it with a forever dog. We stopped by our local shelter every day for a few weeks before my other half spotted a dog named “Apollo”. He was so different; he didn’t bark, didn’t jump and just sat there. I had always loved dogs and gave any dog I came across love and attention, most would give it back BUT not this dog. He was shy, scared and wanted to be left alone. We found out he had Canine Epilepsy and a result of his medication made him shy. I am unsure what made him scared and why he wanted to be left alone, but I wanted to find the answer.
This dog needed a loving home with someone who thought of him as more than just a dog. After spending a night full of research on Canine Epilepsy we knew he had to be ours. We put our application in for him and within a few days he was ours. June 23, 2011 was “Gotcha Day” for now named Rolo.
As Rolo was new to taking medication (Phenobarbital) it took a while to get everything straightened out while getting him on the right path to a seizure free life. We had to visit the vet a lot to get his blood tested to make sure the phenobarbital levels were correct. This resulted in Rolo having two seizures during this time.
Reading up about Epilepsy before we adopted him was a great way to help me prepare for the actual seizures. I didn’t know they were coming so it was a big surprise when they happened. I was freaking out on the inside and just wanted my dog to be safe. After each occurrence when the “monster” left I got my dog back although he was extremely tired. I spent all day comforting him and replenishing his blood sugar level.
After a few months of a strict routine, Rolo slowly came out of his shell and slowly lowered the wall he had built up from his past life. I think the many treats helped too!
Today his levels are normal and we only visit the vet every six months to check his phenobarbital levels and get a refill on his medication.
As Rolo isn’t a young pup he is also getting arthritis in his back legs. Sometimes it’s very bad and sometimes you can’t even tell he has it. There are many things I do to prevent him from being in pain. One is putting a powder joint supplement on his food in the morning to help lubricate his joints. I like a product called JOINT from BioVet. I also try to limit the number of times he goes up the stairs at home. When his arthritis gets painful I also use an orthopedic harness that has a handle on top. It allows me to give him some extra support climbing the stairs to his bed. Rolo also gets lots of leg massages and on occasion the heating pad.
Having a dog with special needs does change your day to day life, but honestly it just makes it more worthwhile. You are putting your time and effort into this amazing animal that will be forever grateful. If you could see Rolo’s reaction to me coming home every day you would know that I made a difference in his life.
Rolo has also been spreading his happy cheer around Fort McMurray since becoming a certified Pet Therapy Dog in early 2013.
Next time you are visiting your local animal shelter/rescue please do not judge an animal by how they act in their kennel, they will more than likely surprise you when you take them home. Also when you adopt an animal it takes them a few months to get settled in so do not return an animal because they don’t fit in right away. A good thing takes time.
I wanted to finish by saying that we are very lucky to have Rolo’s seizures under control but many of his online friends still battle with it even while on medication. Epilepsy is a horrible incurable disease that many animals and humans live with every day. If you suffer from Epilepsy just know that we are thinking of you and there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel!
Kimberley and Rolo are committed to helping homeless pets in their community. The pair has raised more than $5,000 for their local shelter and rescue groups. Kimberley now sits on the board of directors of the Fort McMurray SPCA. Stay in-touch with Kimberley and Rolo at Confessions From A Rescue Mom. We wish her and her fiancé the best on their wedding this Spring.