The Daily Pip

Life Lessons, resources, and random bits for rescue dogs, cats, bunnies, and their peeps

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Specials: Adopting a Dog with Autoimmune Issues

Welcome to week ten of The Specials, a new series focusing on special needs pet adoption. Senior pets, those with chronic medical issues, behavioral or temperament concerns as well as overlooked or misunderstood breeds like Pit Bulls and black cats. If not for the kindness, courage, and compassion of their adopters, many of these animals would have been euthanized in shelters or died alone and hungry on the streets. Please check out past special needs adoption posts here. 

special needs dog adoption

Justine knew she wanted a miniature Dachshund. Growing up, her family had always had doxies and she loved their spunk and big, sparkling personalities. Although she was living in Chicago, she applied to adopt a four year old male miniature Dachshund through Save A Stray, a rescue in southwest Michigan near her hometown. Unfortunately for Justine, the dog was adopted before she had a chance to meet him.

A few week later, the rescue emailed her about another available miniature Dachshund. This dog was older, had some health issues, and the rescue wasn't sure Justine (or anyone) would be interested. Justine immediately made the 90 minute drive from Chicago to Michigan and met Lilly at the local adoption center at PetSmart. Lilly was eight years old had a bad case of fleas, rotting teeth, and patches of hair loss with crusty, bloody skin. In spite of her poor condition, Justine knew the moment she held her for the first time that she would never let Lilly go. 

special needs dog adoption

Lilly had clearly been neglected. Her teeth and gums were so infected that there was a large abscess on the side of her face, which led to three consecutive dentals and 24 teeth pulled in total. She also continued to suffer from extreme itchy skin and discomfort. Assuming the cause was allergy related, Lilly spent her first year and a half undergoing testing to determine the source. But again and again, testing revealed no known allergies. 

special needs dog adoption

Easter 2014, Lilly's condition took a frightening turn for the worse: she began limping which quickly led to complete paralysis. Justine rushed her to an emergency veterinarian assuming it was a slipped disc, a condition to which dachshunds are prone. But treatment didn't help and her pain and paralysis continued. The emergency vet recommended transferring her to a neurologist for an MRI. After four days in the hospital, an MRI, and a spinal tap, she finally received her diagnosis of Meningomyelitis

special needs dog adoption

Meningomyelitis refers to the inflammation of the sheath covering the nerves of the central nervous system, differing from meningitis in that the nerve itself also shows signs of inflammation. This condition may arise from either infection, autoimmune reaction, or trauma. 

After three years, Lilly finally had a diagnosis and treatment began immediately. Lilly's condition is autoimmune in nature and she now follows a daily regime of steroids including Prednisone and Atopica. Additionally, she requires careful monitoring and blood work every three or four months to check her kidney levels. Her skin issues have healed and she is pain free and comfortable.

special needs dog adoption

Lilly enjoys walks and playing with her toys; she even played fetch with me when I visited. She also loves the park where like all doxies, she assumes her natural leadership position, bossing around dogs three times her size. Her only limitations are stairs and jumping. Fortunately, Justine is around to help her on and off the couch. 

Although Lilly's diagnosis and treatment have been stressful and expensive, Justine has never doubted her decision to adopt her and provide her with the unconditional love and supportive care she needed to heal and now thrive. Justine is a shining example of responsible and compassionate adoption and pet guardianship. May she and Lilly have many more beautiful years together. 



Shelters are filled with senior pets waiting for someone to see beyond their gray whiskers, cloudy eyes, tired limbs, and bruised hearts. Some of these animals have known loving homes but many others have not. They have much to share and when given a second chance, their gratitude and love is immense. 

If you enjoyed this post, please check out my posts on adopting a paralyzed cat and adopting a puppy mill survivor. 


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32 comments

  1. Lilly is a doll. Bless Justine for taking such good care of her♥

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  2. Oh what a great story. Justine is such a great person to do all that she did for this cute little dog. We sure do thank her from the bottom of our hearts.

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  3. A giant hug for Justine for rescuing Lilly... I bet every day they spend together is super special... thanks for a wonderful story about true love :o)

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  4. I can only admire people like Justine ! What a sad story with fortunately a happy end !

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  5. Lily is beautiful and i Happy endings are not just for fairy tales. so glad she found her mama and that they now know how to treat her.

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  6. I'm so happy for both Lilly and Justine. Lilly is beautiful, and I'm glad she found her happy ending with Justine. Many kudos to Justine for adopting Lilly, and for staying by her side even when times got rough. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us!

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  7. What an inspirational story. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

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  8. Lilly is so lovely, and she and Justine were so lucky to find each other!

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  9. Hari OM
    As ever, I sit in awe of the Love at work!!! Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

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  10. I'm so glad for the happy ending.

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  11. Well if Lilly lives as long as Lee's fathers doxy which was nineteen years they will have a long time together. Lilly has a very inquisitive look.
    We love your specials.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot

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  12. Yes, we love your "Specials", too! Lilly is just adorable, and Justine is a shining example of a wonderful parental unit to a dog with special needs.

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  13. What a wonderful thing Justine has done, making such a difference to this dear little dachshund. Hoping Lilly has many more happy and pain free years with her caring and loving family.
    Cheers, Gail.

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  14. Beautiful story. Hope they have a long time together.

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  15. How wonderful for Justine to adopt a dog with such serious medical needs, she is a true dog lover.
    So glad to hear Lilly is happy and pain free now.
    Lynne x

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  16. We love our specials! Justine has an amazing heart, she and Lilly are lucky to find each other! I'm sure she would say it would be difficult to decide who rescued who. We definitely feel that way about our our Diabetes & Cushing's boys!!

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  17. We just love these happy endings!

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

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  18. LILY IS A BEAUTY AND I JUST LOVE HER CLASSIC DACHSHUND PROFILE.
    WE ARE SO GLAD SHE HAS A LOVING MOM.
    hUGS MADI AND MOM

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  19. Lily is gorgeous. My husbands family has doxies abs I've always loved them

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  20. We do love these stories. So happy Lily found the right home and I am sure she has filled it with joy

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  21. Lilly is such a beauty, and her mom is an angel on earth
    hugs
    Mr Bailey, hazel & Mabel

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  22. Aaaaaaw Lily is very purretty and such a gweat story. Fanks fur sharin'.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

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  23. I'm glad Lilly found her happy ending! It's a shame how neglected she was before.

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  24. Lilly is so darn cute and we are so glad she found her happy!

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  25. This story really touched my heart. I wish them all the best. Our first dog Loki had an autoimmune disorder. We didn't know that when we got him. It was a long road and in the end his immune mediated hepatitis caused cirrhosis of the liver and we had to say goodbye. I would do it again for the love!

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  26. There is a special place in heaven for people that save dogs with a lifetime of problems. Bless both of their hearts. ♥

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  27. We're so glad Lilly found a home with Justine.

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  28. I absolutely adore doxies. I've had two canine "sister" doxies, and they were both absolutely wonderful. Reading up on this sweetie makes me miss them all the more. I wish Lilly nothing but the best!

    Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie

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  29. Lilly is adorable! She hit the jackpot with a fantastic mom. Paws up to her for loving Lilly so much.

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