Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gibson Says "Check Please!" In Support of Canine Epilepsy Awareness

K9 Epilepsy SpokesHusky Gibson
Woooo! That’s Gibson and the FiveSibes and I making a very exciting announcement! Thanks to so many wonderful and caring folks who have purchased my first FiveSibes™ Tale, What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy, we have been able to make our very first donation to Canine Epilepsy Resources Emma’s Fund! We hope to continue selling copies of my children’s book, which contains fun and lively illustrations by the very talented Michelle Littler of Etsy's littletoad so through Gibson’s story and ArcticHouse, I can continue making donations to this very important organization.

This is such a big day because as many of you know, I have been an author, writer, photojournalist, photographer, and editor for many years. I established ArcticHousePublishing so I can produce the FiveSibes™ Tales and after the costs of production, I can then make a donation to a worthy cause. For What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy, I selected the Canine EpilepsyResources, a non-profit organization that offers support, information, and valuable resources to Epi-dog parents worldwide. It’s a wonderful organization that is also home of the Epil-K9 list, which as the website states, was: “…founded in 1996 by Alicia Wiersma-Aylward. It is now co-owned and managed by: Marion Mitchell, Chris Desmedt, Sandie Snider, Alisa Arnoff, Jeanette Tunstal, Kathy Linder, Ally McAvoy, and Helen Underwood. The purpose of Epil-K9 to is to discuss Canine Epilepsy and seizures. List members are encouraged to ask questions and/or give information on these disorders according to their experiences. However, suggestions and advice found here are not to be misconstrued as an alternative to personal, professional veterinary care."

"This forum has been designed to provide a warm, welcoming environment to anyone with a seizing dog or is interested in this health problem. It is also designed to educate and inform us, so we may better deal with seizures in our animals. Therefore, we strive for a friendly atmosphere of mutual cooperation and understanding. We are a large and very active list, with members from over 20 countries. In addition, Epil-K9, is very fortunate to have veterinarians, including leading veterinary specialists in Canine Epilepsy on the list sharing their knowledge with us. We hope that you will find the information contained in these pages helpful and informative.”

I am, of course, a member of this amazing list. The folks are so supportive and the information shared amongst Epi-parents is so helpful. Sometimes we learn something new. Sometimes we share our own experiences with our beloved Epi-dogs. Sometimes we are a good ear for someone who has just lost their pet. Sometimes we are the encouragement to hang strong and have faith through another seizure or reaction to a medication. It is an amazing list of amazing people. I highly recommend any hu-parent of an Epi-dog to join.

The website is also chock-full of information. There is a glossary of terms, frequently asked questions, a list of anti-Epilepsy medications, diet and nutrition, vaccination information, holistic approaches, living with Epi-dogs, and even a section on Feline Epilepsy. There are also very informative articles by Dr. W. Jean Dodds, an internationally recognized authority on thyroid issues in dogs and blood diseases in animals. According to Canine Epilepsy Resources, "In the mid-1980's she founded Hemopet, the first nonprofit blood bank for animals. Dr. Dodds is a grantee of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and author of over 150 research publications.  Through Hemopet, she provides canine blood components and blood-bank supplies throughout North America, consults in clinical pathology, and lectures worldwide. “

Epil-K9 2013 Calendar Cover
Each year, the folks at Canine Epilepsy Resources also designs and sells a beautiful Epil-K9 Calendar that contains dozens of photos of beautiful Epi-dogs and their friends from all over. And this year, I am so pleased that Gibson and my FiveSibes are among the photos! This calendar is their major fundraiser of the year and this is their tenth year of production! The beautiful calendars are $22 (for US & Canadian residents), and, “a percentage of which is a tax deductible donation to Emma’s Fund,” the same fund I will continue to donate a percentage of proceeds to from our What’sWrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy book.  

"Emma, the face of Canine Epilepsy"
So who is Emma? Emma was a beautiful Dalmatian who was the furchild of Marion Mitchell, Canine Epilepsy Resources site co-owner and manager, who explains on the homepage that, "This site is dedicated to the memory of Emma, who disappeared from her yard with the gate closed on the evening of March 20, 2007 never to be seen again. She was almost 14. She had a wonderful life camping, climbing mountains, and swimming in rivers and lakes there wasn't a person or dog she didn't love, she was my heart's dog. There will never be another quite like Em." To read more about Emma, Marion has made Emma's diary available to read, which I did, and as I read it, I shared the emotions as it brought me right back to when Gibson started having seizures. With tears in my eyes, I knew this was a place for us. This was a place where fellow Epi-dog parents felt the same I was. Experienced similar situations that we did. It was a shelter...a place of support and comfort. When I first started my journey with Gibson and his seizures, I was alone. I did not know of anyone who had a dog with Canine Epilepsy. I did not know of any resources. I was so fortunate that through social networking, I met a gal who was a nurse and her dog, Max, is an Epi-dog. She reached out across the miles to a total stranger and helped me through those initial scary times. I posted my journal of Gibson's seizures on line, and from there, met so many wonderful folks and helpful resources, such as Canine Epilepsy Resources. 

Continues Marion, "(Emma's) diary...has inspired many people that Epilepsy isn't a death sentence and that an epileptic dog can have a fulfilling life. For many years, Emma was known throughout the world as the 'Face of Canine Epilepsy.' Even though she is now part of the universe, her light still shines into the dark corners of Canine Epilepsy. Dearest Emma you will never be forgotten. you will live on through this site forever." 

Emma’s Memorial Fund was set up by The Neurology Departmentof the Veterinary School at North Carolina State University and is used to “help the neurology and genetics department with small projects or pieces of equipment.”

Marion, who is the main driving force behind the annual calendar, talks about the history of the Epil-K9 Friends & Family Calendar:

“I had been making the Epil-K9 calendars since 2004. At that time, the money raised went to the Canine Health Foundation  to be used for Canine Epilepsy research. When Emma disappeared on March 20, 2007, we were of course broken hearted.  Epil-K9 had been working with North Carolina State University Veterinary College Department of Neurology  providing blood from their dogs to help with the research on (prescription seizure medication) Keppra. When they found out that Emma had died/disappeared they asked what they could do to help me. I asked for a fund to be set up in Emma's memory and the money to be used for research so, from 2007 onwards all profits from the calendar go to Emma's Fund.”

The calendars, which are worked on by Marion and two volunteers (who help to create the pages, collect the money, and mail out the calendars), truly are a piece of canine artwork with so many beautiful dogs being featured in photographs. They make wonderful gifts too (don’t forget your vet!) Shares Marion, “The calendar features Epil-K9  epileptic dogs, sometimes with their owners and family members and other  family pets. We usually feature over 200 photos, major holidays of many countries and Canine Epilepsy advice.” 

As the hu-mom to my Epi-Husky, Gibson, I am in total agreement with Marion’s philosophy that dogs can live fulfilling lives with Canine Epilepsy. It is by no means a death sentence for dogs. As many of you know, over the past several years, Gibson and I have embarked upon our own Canine Epilepsy Awareness Campaign with Gibson being my Epi SpokesHusky. Our “Live Gib Strong” campaign is to help inform hu-parents that there are options, treatments (medical, holistic, dietary, etc) and valuable resources (such as Canine Epilepsy Resources) available for guidance and to highlight Epi-dogs worldwide living their lives with Canine Epilepsy. 

Marion with furbabies Lyra & Will and the Gib Check!

I am so proud that through my story of Gibson’s experiences with Canine Epilepsy in What's Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy that I am able to help children (and adults alike) better understand seizures and hopefully remove the stigma and some of the fear and at the same time be able to donate some funds in support of such an important and valuable organization as Canine Epilepsy Resources and the Emma's Fund. Pictured above is Emma's hu-mom, Marion along with her current beautiful furbabies Lyra and Will, accepting our very first donation a/ka/ "Gib Check" to the Canine Epilepsy Resources Emma's Memorial Fund! I'd like to think that Emma is smiling that beautiful Dalmatian smile at all of us for carrying on the message and supporting Canine Epilepsy Awareness.

If you'd like to order a copy of my book, What's Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy, of which a percentage will benefit Canine Epilepsy Resoures, click HERE. And if you'd like to have it personalized, just ask!

To order a copy of the Canine Epilepsy Resources 2013 Epil-K9 Friends & Family Calendar, click HERE

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." ~Unknown

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  1. Oh wow, what a great cause! I am going to check out the calendars-how great!

  2. yea.....congratulations. Every donation makes such a big difference
    Benny & Lily

  3. We have had several dogs with epilepsy over the years. It is so nice that there is much more support now than when we had to deal with it. Way to make a difference!!!