My name is Niko and I live in Macomb, Michigan, USA
Our handsome Siberian Husky Niko had to fight against the odds from the beginning…..three and half years ago we decided the time was right for a husky to join our family. After researching breeders in our area, we found one that had not one but
four litters to choose a new puppy from. Just weeks after the litters arrived, we got to visit the puppies and pick one out. We really wanted a black and white male husky, but so did everyone else. The only available male puppies were all white, and we thought
about waiting for a future litter. But the breeder picked up one of the tiny white males and placed him in my arms. It was love at first sight, I knew at that moment that it didn’t matter what color he was. I fell in love with this little pudgy white
and pink puppy immediately. I knew that our family would love him unconditionally, black, white, red…no matter what color, we loved our little boy.
A week before we were to pick up Niko and take him home, the breeder emailed me and said that Niko was a “little small” for his age but assured us that their vet had examined him and could find nothing wrong with him. When we arrived, little Niko was in a cage with another pup who we thought was from an older litter. The breeder told us that the puppy was his sibling. That is when we realized just how abnormally small he was, Niko weighed 4 ½ lbs at 9 weeks old….his brother weighed about 13 lbs. Clearly our little Niko was the runt, and he was obviously getting pushed to the back of the food line by his much larger siblings. Niko also had a hernia from the mom biting off the umbilical cord. We were very unhappy about Niko’s size and his hernia which we knew would require surgery. The breeder said we could choose another available puppy or wait for another little if we didn’t want him anymore. We immediately refused. We already loved Niko and we were going to give him the best chance at a good, happy life. Within just one week of bringing him home, our little boy doubled his weight and size. Our vet said by all standards, he was healthy and finally growing like he should. We had the hernia fixed when we had Niko neutered. Month after month Niko continued grow bigger, stronger and healthier.
Two weeks after Niko’s 3rd birthday, I was taken ill by flu. I was lying on the couch watching TV and Niko was laying in his usual spot by the front door. Suddenly Niko let out a painful yelp; I thought he was just having a nightmare. Then his whole body began to convulse. I raced to his side as his began to paddle all his paws uncontrollably. His mouth was open and foaming. His body was contorted and he began to urinate all over. I was so frightened… I thought he was dying right in my arms. The convulsing finally stopped and Niko got up. He could hardly stand and the empty look in his eyes told me how confused and scared he was. He just paced and cried. Niko had never had a seizure before. I called our vet and could barely even tell them what happened. They said to bring him in immediately. I was still hysterical and crying over what I had just witnessed. My fiancés daughter came home just then, and we rushed Niko to the vet. By the time we got Niko there, he was his old self. He seemed fine. After routine blood tests and an exam, the vet said that it was too early to tell what caused the seizure. We had to wait and see if it happened again.
Niko was fine for a week. Without warning, Niko had another seizure. My fiancé was home this time and was just horrified at what he saw. This time I was much calmer, and sat by Niko’s side and softly talked to him, telling him that his momma is here and everything will be ok. We took Niko back to the vet and they suggested we see a vet neurologist who specialized in canine epilepsy. They also suggested monitoring the seizures: how many, how long, how often. We took Niko to the neurologist, who after a thorough exam diagnosed Niko with idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic meant no known cause, just epilepsy like a human might have. The doctor recommended that we start Niko on the anti-seizure medication Zonisamide. After reading the side effects, we were scared to give him the meds and we were scared not to. My fiancé and I discussed the other medication options given to us by the doctor. Finally we decided to start Niko on Keppra, which we felt had the least amount of side effects of the drug choices. A week later Niko had three seizures in one day, and we had to rush him to an after-hours emergency vet clinic. We had to leave him overnight for observation because if he had a fourth seizure, they wanted to be able to administer valium right away. We called the neurologist in the morning and decided that we would go with her initial- recommendation of Zonisamide. Because Niko was already on Keppra, the vet recommended we add the Zonisamide to the Keppra. We couldn’t risk weaning him off one to start the other. For the first couple weeks, we could tell Niko was a little unsteady on his feet from the new medication. He seemed to sleep a little more as well. But within a month, he was back to his wild and crazy self and no seizures. We had found a combination that worked. It had been nearly 8 months and Niko has been seizure free. He seems happy and healthy and takes his meds like a champ. We are thrilled to find a drug combination so quickly that worked for NIko. I used to wonder why Niko was given this horrible condition or why it had to be our dog. I thought about it for a long time, until I realized that it was God’s intention for our family to adopt Niko. God knew that we would do everything possible to help this dog live. We would fight for Niko and we would never give up or turn our back on this beautiful dog. Niko is part of our family; he is our furry “child” that we will love, unconditionally, always, and forever.