Pet Spotlight: Tallulah

Living With Addison's Disease

Years ago, Kim, and her partner, Liz, found a friendly black-and-white dog roaming the parking lot of a local restaurant.

“It was obvious to me that she had been abandoned,” said Kim. “She was incredibly friendly, approaching people and wagging her tail, but she was also very confused and hungry. We had scarves in our trunk that we tied together to make a leash, which we put around her neck, and brought her home.”

Kim and Liz advertised that they had found the dog and hoped the owner would contact them. In the meantime, they discovered, with their veterinarian’s help, that the dog they had found and brought home was less than a year old and pregnant. Soon after their discovery, the dog’s owner, who quickly became her former owner, contacted them. He wasn't able to keep the dog for personal reasons and Kim and Liz were thrilled to take on ownership.

“We already had two dogs in our household, Ranger and Selma, and now we had a third. We named her Tallulah and she’s been with us ever since.”

Tallulah, also called Luly, Luly Boo, and Lula, by her doting parents, had 11 puppies, 9 of which survived. “We have a small house, so it was very interesting having 9 puppies introduced overnight!” laughed Kim.

Tallulah was a wonderful mother to her puppies and even became a mother to a kitten that Kim and Liz were fostering. Once the puppies were old enough, Animal Compassion Network helped Kim and Liz place the puppies in wonderful homes.

After all the puppy excitement, things settled down for a while. Kim and Liz observed that Tallulah was a laid-back, but playful dog who fit in perfectly in their household of critters: dogs, cats, iguanas, rats, gerbils, etc. 

“She just goes with the flow,” said Kim. “Selma, our dog who has now passed away, was the alpha-dog and Lula was fine with that. I really got the feeling that Lula was just happy to have a place in our home.”

Then one day everything changed. When Tallulah was 2-years-old, she stopped eating and started to shake. “We took her to see Dr. Plankenhorn. Dr. Plankenhorn was so thorough. She looked beyond the blood tests and saw Tallulah as a whole patient. Dr. Plankenhorn told us Tallulah had Addison’s disease and we were so relieved because Addison’s is treatable.”

Addison's disease is a condition in which a dog's adrenal gland does not produce a sufficient amount of either cortisol or aldosterone. This can cause many serious health complications. Symptoms of Addison’s include fatigue, diarrhea, sweating, and muscle pain. Dogs diagnosed with Addison’s disease must take medication for the rest of their lives.

Tallulah gets a Percotin injection every 28 days and she also takes Prednisone every other day. Occasionally, she will need an injection a little earlier.

“She let’s us know if she needs an injection sooner,” said Kim. “She becomes very needy, and always wants to be around us.  She also becomes very quiet and docile. This is a sign that she isn’t feeling well and so we take her into AHNA a few days earlier for her shot. After the shot she always has a burst of energy. She runs around the house and playfully chases the cat.”

Tallulah is now 8-years-old. “Tallulah grew up with our son, Jasper,” said Kim. “She has done amazingly well. We call her the poster-dog for Addison’s disease.  We love her. She’s intelligent and sweet; she’s basically perfect – except for when she eats cat poop!”

Comments

Back in the 70's, when we lived in New Orleans, our Great Dane Velvet was diagnosed with Addison's when she was about 4. We had a great vet there who diagnosed her symptoms, but at that time, the meds weren't readily available for dogs. One hospital in N.O. "specialized" in the disease (in people!) and our vet made arrangements for us to get what we needed there. Initially, we had to give DAILY injections, but Velvet was incredibly cooperative, and would come lie at my feet when she saw me preparing the syringe. Like Lula, she responded to treatment very well, and did great, but would have periodic relapses. Again, like Lula, she would bounce right back once our vet would adjust the dosage. When she was about 6, the pharmaceutical company made advances and we only had to give injections once a week. (I'm sure the human patients were even more delighted!) Be grateful you only need monthly injections! Velvet was one of the sweetest dogs we have owned, and thanks to a great vet and our constant care, she lived to a very old (for a Dane) 12 years - and was comfortable til the end!

Kim and Liz clearly have what Lula needs - great vets with AHNA and the caring attitude and action to keep a great dog going - and going - comfortably to old age. We wish you the best!

Ray and Laura,
Thank you so much for your encouraging message. I cannot imagine what it must have been like negotiating Velvet's Addison's in the days before dog meds were available. We feel very fortunate to have AHNA for Tallulah and all of our critters! Best to you all.

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