Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Addison's Disease Awareness: Gracie Lou Clough's Story

by Bobbi Borst Clough

Gracie is a 10 year old 134 lb English Mastiff. Gracie was abused until she was 6 months old. She then went to a loving family. Unfortunately, that life ended all to soon with the tragic accident. The husband and the child of her family were killed in an automobile accident. Gracie comforted the mother for the next 6 months. The mother then had to move and could not take Gracie with her. This pained her so much. She looked into a rescue group. 

The foster mom promised her that she would wait for the perfect family to adopt Gracie. Gracie stayed in foster for much longer than normal. 

I had a mastiff who was diagnosed with Addison's at 7 months old. 

She was the runt of her litter and was on death's door when I rescued her. Once we found out she had Addison's, she lived to 4 ½ years old. Her kidneys, which were never formed correctly finally gave out on her. 

She was my first mastiff and I fell in love with the breed despite the issues she had. I decided that I needed to rescue another one. 

Gracie Lou Clough

I found Gracie on the website of the rescue group I had started helping with. 

I was just drawn to her and her story. I talked to her foster mom for hours about her. We both knew that she was going to come to her forever home with me. She was several hours away so the foster mom and I met halfway. 

Right away Gracie came up to me and my daughter and she leaned on my leg and sat on my foot. The lean is everything for a mastiff. If they lean on you they like you. It was love at first sight for me and my kids. 

Fast forward to 7 months later, Gracie crashed and could not get up my stairs. 

My son carried her up and into the car and we rushed her to my wonderful vet. I will never forget that day. Gracie was on IV's and in a kennel with me sitting on the floor next to her. 

My vet walked in and sat on an empty kennel. 

He told me that he was going to do the test for Addison's or that she had some type of cancer. 

The next day all four of my vets came into the room and told me that she indeed did have Addison's. One of them said he stayed up half the night looking for mastiffs with AD and there just were not too many (at that time he could find none). 

They told me they were sorry that I now had my second Addisonian Mastiff. 

I told them I was happy that it was indeed Addison's. I already knew Addison's was managable and a dog could live a full and normal life with it. I even had some meds left over from my first girl. 

My first girl took .8 mg of florinef 2x's a day. We started Gracie on that dose and kept playing with it over the next year. She finally ended up on 1.5 mg Floinef 2x's per day. She has been on that dose for 7 years now. 

No one can tell me that this girl was not meant to come to live with me. Her foster mom had turned down other potential adopters because of the promise she made to Gracie's owner former owner to find the perfect family. 

When Gracie was 4 she somehow got out of my yard by going under my fence. I never thought a 134 pound dog would go under my fence but she did. She got hit by a car and Animal control had to get her by the pole neck chain because she was being aggressive. 

My neighbor saw animal control with her and told them that she lived with me. They knocked on my door on this Sunday. They had her good side facing me so I did not know she was hit. Then they turned her and she had a deep gash in her chest. My car was in the shop and I had no way to get her to the ER vet. Animal control drove me. 

I went running in the door screaming that she had Addison's. 

The vet on call was the husband of one of my vets that cared for Gracie. Gracie was on death's doors; she went gray and limp. They dosed her with high amounts of prednisone and put in a chest tube. She had air around her lungs. Since the ER vet could talk to my vets that night, the plan was to Gracie to my vet in the AM for surgery. 

The ER vet was not comfortable working on a dog with Addison's. 

The next day my wonderful, amazing vets waited until their lunch hour to do her surgery so all four of them could be in there and monitor her. Her sternum was broken and they could not do anything about that. They were able to close the wound and keep her safe. She recovered from that. 

I fixed all of my fencing however, from that day forward she is very scared of cars on the roads.

About a year after that, Gracie started to gain lots of weight. 

My wonderful vets (have I mentioned how much I love my vets) did a thyroid test and sure enough she had low thyroid. The weight came off as soon as she was put on meds and she was back to her happy healthy self. 

 In 2011, tragedy struck my household. My children's father was killed in a car accident. Gracie is the kind of dog who reads people so well. 

She comforted me and my children the same way she did with her first owner. 

Gracie continues to be by our side whenever we are feeling down. Once again, no one can tell me that this girl was not meant to be in our lives. 

About a year ago Gracie developed acute onset glaucoma and went blind in her left eye. 

My vets were able to shrink her eye so she would no longer be in pain. She could lose her other eye at any time but so far the drops I put in her good eye are working. 

Gracie also has chronic subcutaneous cysts all over her body. She has two that keep popping and becoming infected. She now takes antibiotics every 30 days for 10 days and that is working well. 

Because of her age and her Addison's, the vets and I have chosen not to remove the cysts. 

Through all of this, Gracie has always been a fighter and a champion. Nothing gets her down. My vets continue to be amazed by her. 

Gracie turned 10 on Feb. 5, 2015. 

No one thought she would live this long. She is still a happy girl, gets around great and is the love of my life. She is truly my heart dog. 

This is more than a story of a dog with Addison's; this is a story of a dog that was put on this earth to comfort her families though the good and the very bad times. 

Addison's is just one part of her story but it also shows that a dog with AD can live life to its fullest and get through the tough times also.


Do you have a dog diagnosed with Addison's? Is your dog unwell and nobody can figure out why?

Addison dogs Facebook support group is comprised of individuals from around the world who are striving toward healthy, active lives for their canine friend(s) with Addison’s disease. They seek to improve wellness for the whole dog—including body, mind and spirit.

Addison Dogs also works to educate and support the companion animal community about Addison’s disease in dogs. The goal is to foster open communication about the variety of options available to the caregiver of a dog with Addison's disease.

Related articles:
Addison's Disease Awareness: What's Wrong With Hannah? 

Further reading:
So Your Dog Has Addison's Disease
Addison's Disease (Hypoadrenocorticism)

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