November Epilepsy Awareness Month: Meet Epi-Star MANILOW
Epi-Star "Manilow" B. Magic
and Hu-Mom, Barbara
by Dorothy Wills-Raftery
In my continuing month-long Epi-Star series, based on the concept of my book EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy, I am highlighting some amazing dogs who have/are living and loving life with Canine Epilepsy, a few who starred in my book. Today, we are looking at the life of Barbara Drury’s beloved yellow Labrador Retriever she named Manilow (after her favorite singer, Barry Manilow). Manilow, Barbara told me when I was I was writing my book and interviewing her, that right from the beginning he was her “best friend.” He came into her life as a 12-week-old puppy shortly before Thanksgiving in 1996.
Reflecting back on his life, Barbara says today, “From the very first day I brought my dog Manilow home, back In November of 1996, I knew Manilow was a very special dog. The fact that when Manilow was around 6 years old when he started having seizures, well that just made him become extra special to me!”
“Manilow gave me great strength, hope, and the courage to pursue my dreams.” Barbara gained inspiration from her Epi-dog to open her own doggie daycare business, Manilow’s Canine Playground originally in Leominster, Massachusetts, but now located in Devens.
“Without my best friend, Manilow, I would have never reached out to others and would never have met so many wonderful people and dogs. His life was such a special gift to me, and I know in my heart that he changed my life forever on the day I first brought him home.”
While some may say how can a dog be special with seizures? Well, they sure can because dogs who have Epilepsy certainly can live full lives doing the things dogs without Epilepsy can!
Even after Manilow began having seizures, Barbara explains, “He continued to chase frisbees, to swim in the ocean, to hike waterfalls in the White Mts., because he was still a dog, who happened to have seizures too.”
Sadly, in 2003, Barbara’s “dear mother passed away just a few months” after she opened Manilow’s Canine Playground. “Manilow would come to work with me everyday and play with his friends. However, shortly after my mom’s death, Manilow knew that my dad was now home alone all day, and he sensed my dad’s loneliness. In his own special way, my Manilow let me know that he now wanted to stay home with his friend ‘Grampa’ to be by his side and to help ease his grief. So, I began to leave Manilow home when I went to work every day and he stayed with my dad to keep him company.”
Barbara’s message to others who finds themselves caring for a dog with Epilepsy is, “I would suggest that you learn about it as much as you can. Search out the many online groups to connect with others who are dealing with similar stories. Reach out to amazing Ambassadors, such as Dorothy Wills- Raftery, who is such an incredible lady who is filled with so much knowledge and ways to help owners of Epi-dogs. Please always remember that your dog can live a very happy, full life!”
Barbara also mentions that she has had a few Epi-dogs attend her doggie daycare over the years. “For the most part, you wouldn’t even know which dogs they were while playing with all the other dogs! Currently, one of our regular daycare dogs, Duke, who comes once a week to Manilow’s, started having seizures over a year ago. His owners now give him Keppra everyday and when he is with us, we give him a dose of his meds at 1pm.”
"Reach out to amazing Ambassadors, such as
Dorothy Wills- Raftery (of FiveSibes), who is such an incredible lady who is filled with so
much knowledge and ways to help owners of Epi-dogs. Please always remember that
your dog can live a very happy, full life!” ~Barbara Drury, Owner Manilow's Canine Playground
Barbara mentions the time because if you have a dog on Canine Epilepsy meds, or anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), specific timing of doses is incredibly important. So whether your dog is home or at a daycare or boarding facility, it is important to have those handlers aware of the dog’s specifically timed medication schedule.
While Manilow now graces the great fields beyond the Rainbow Bridge, Barbara remains a steadfast advocate for dogs who just happened to live life with Epilepsy. “I try to always have Canine Epilepsy information on display here at my doggie daycare for anyone that may need it. It is very important to me to help share what knowledge I can with others, or to help them connect with people like Dorothy.”
Barbara and her boys, Boston and Brooklyn, often visit the beautiful hillside of Dog Mountain in Vermont. Dog Mountain is, according to DogMtn.com, "The Dog Chapel was introduced to the world as a symbol of peace, love, and remembrance. In the more than 20 years since, it has been transformed into a living piece of communal art and history, ever-evolving with each new note and photo pinned to the overflowing walls. The Chapel has become a unique and moving physical embodiment of the unending love people have to give."
As I write this, Barbara, with her Boston and Brooklyn, are currently there! She sent me this beautiful photo below, and while at Dog Mountain, where previously she thoughtfully left a note on the chapel wall in memory of my Gibson and her Manilow, she said she said a "Hello" to both of our beloved boys while in the serene snowy beauty surrounding the Dog Mountain Chapel. 💜 I hope to one day visit this special place.
To visit Manilow's Canine Playground Facebook page, go HERE.
For Manilow's Canine Playground website, go HERE.
For info on Dog Chapel, go HERE.
Other Stories in Epi-Star Series: