EPI Awareness

Recently, an EPI dog was featured on Ellen:

It’s a sweet story and I’m so pleased that they were invited onto the show. However, I am deeply sad to see almost no focus on EPI. We’ve come a bit since 2008, when I was struggling to get Yara diagnosed, where EPI was still considered a disorder that mainly affected GSDs. But even today it can still be a very difficult diagnosis to make despite the fact that we know it is not exclusive to the German shepherd or even to dogs!

EPI Calendars

Each year epi4dogs.com asks members of the community to submit photographs of their dogs1 who have survived EPI. These photographs are then turned into a calendar with all of the proceeds going towards EPI research and awareness. It’s become quite a popular event and a few years ago there were so many photos that two calendars were created.

Well, this year there are NINE! And guess who’s December in #3? Here’s a hint:

Yara sitting in front of the decorated holiday tree at Dad's

Anyway, if you’re looking for some cute and adorable in your 2015 calendar, I highly recommend these. And you can even feel good about yourself for helping sick animals.

  1. And recently added cats, too.

Yara (& Eli)

One of the casualties of the switch over to a Mac was I went a few weeks without all of my programs installed, specifically all my Adobe software like Photoshop and Dreamweaver. This was good in that I didn’t spend my nonexistent free time playing around editing images or breaking making new websites. It was less good in that I also had no real ability to go through any photos I’d taken, which meant I wasn’t posting any photos.

Anyway, long story short, I came across these photos of Yara from Easter:

I only have these two because all the others included or were solely of Uschi who was apparently was still channeling all her playful energy because she’s just as much a motion blur in those as all the shots I took of them playing. I should have just taken a video, but at the time I couldn’t remember how to do that on my camera. (Note to self: Use camera more so this is less an issue in the future.)

Related, Yara has a new little brother! A few days after these photos were taken my father officially adopted a German shepherd rescued by a North Carolina shelter named Eli. The fact that he shares his name with a very beloved mutt we used to have when I was growing up was probably enough to melt my dad’s heart, but what solidified it was finding out that he was surrendered because he has EPI, like Yara. The whole thing is a rather involved story, but I’m happy to say he’s been settling in pretty well. Uschi and I have yet to meet him what with my Dad living in the Middle of No and Corner of Where and the fact that Eli’s still recovering from being very emaciated.1 Not to mention he’s basically a puppy and, well, in her own way so is Uschi. :-)

  1. The vet figures he’ll top out well over 100 pounds; he was 43 when he arrived at Dad’s.


I rambled so nonsensically yesterday that half of what I intended to ramble about didn’t get mentioned. I’ll likely do the same today because while I’m far calmer I’m still relentlessly neurotic about that thing I can’t talk about. Also, I am cryptic.

Anyway, the biggest thing I didn’t mention was this article on the Health and Wellness blog at The New York Times about EPI. I am so thrilled that this article has seen the light of day because it is really big exposure for EPI. I can’t stress enough how important it is to spread awareness of EPI because that lack itself is one of the largest hurdles to deal with. And even among those that are familiar with the condition, it’s still one that is mostly associated with German shepherds, however, it is not exclusive to the GSD or even just to dogs!

Yara and me lying in the grass togetherI sincerely hope you take the time to read the article, but even more I’d appreciate it if you would share the link with others and help increase awareness of EPI. And, if you’re in a particularly generous mood, there are a bunch of fine products you can purchase that will benefit EPI research and the campaign to spread awareness, including, but not limited to the 2013 calendars which features this lovely photo by Red Cottage Photography. (Thanks again, Mike!)

Speaking of guide dogs, I also neglected to mention my sort-of-kind-of resolution for next year to really get guide-dogs.org off the ground. I know I’ve been saying that for, well, awhile, but in my defense I need to eat and so unfortunately things that actually help with that need took priority. Also, there was that whole pain issue. But I still have everyone’s contact information who voiced any interest in helping and I fully intend to pester those people relentlessly. Along with anyone else who wants to help out!

Oh, and I also totally forgot about the pain stuff. Well, honestly, there’s not too much to report. My new doctor remains awesome and she is in total agreement with me about not prescribing drugs with crazy side-effects just on the off chance they might help. Unfortunately, she’s exhausted any ideas beyond that and so has referred me to a rheumatologist. My appointment isn’t until after the New Year, but frankly at this point waiting is the least of my issues. As far as I’m concerned it may well be fibromyalgia and everything we’re doing is pointless because there really isn’t anything that can be done. But I’m relieved that my new doctor is on board with me and isn’t taking that diagnosis as the ultimate answer. The stiffness in my fingers is what concerns her the most, which was something my previous doctor didn’t seem to think was much of an issue at all. Personally, I’m really fond of the ability to use my hands and those few weeks where I couldn’t even bend my fingers to hold a coffee cup were almost worse than the few weeks I was in so much pain I couldn’t move.


It seems everywhere I look lately there’s someone touting their cupcakes made for dogs! Bettie’s Cakes has their “puppie cuppies” that Uschi is quite a fan of. Sloppy Kisses has a wheat-and-corn free cupcakes that Yara can eat! Even Sprinkles has one! Given all the cupcakes I make it’s no wonder that one of the most frequent questions I get asked is about homemade dog treats even though it wasn’t until last year that I specifically made my own “pupcakes.”

Since Yara was first diagnosed with EPI I’ve had a few people call me out for being a “dog food snob.” I’m certainly not the last word on dog nutrition, but I have done more than my share of research and I’m certainly far more knowledgeable on the subject than I was before having a dog with digestive issues. Yet, while I’ve become quite the advocate for feeding raw, I couldn’t help but feel baking for a dog seemed like too much of a fad and I just couldn’t see the point. Granted my pet dogs all had more than their share of people food so making anything specifically for them would have been absurd. Dolly was always so distracted by food that such an effort would have been largely a waste since her allotment of treats was small and infrequent.

Anyway, since I first made them, I’ve had few things be requested more than those pupcakes. So, much to Uschi’s joy I made a huge batch:

"Pupcakes" in yellow liners topped with peanut butter sitting on a cooling rack

As you can imagine, Uschi was very pleased by this. Oh, and no, there was no specific reason they’re in yellow liners other than the fact that I seem to the most excess in that particular color.