Tillie’s Tale

Tillie’s Tale

In February, we introduced you to a special gal. Her name is Tillie.

Pet Haven pulled Tillie from a local shelter, where she had been completely shut down. This big 82-pound Great Dane mix wouldn’t hurt a fly, yet she had no desire to interact with humans while she was in the shelter setting.


Enter Pet Haven’s foster care program.

Soon after arriving to Pet Haven, Tillie started to “come to life.” Her foster’s healthy resident dog was her role model, and Tillie slowly started to trust her foster parents, and then eventually their family and friends. This little (ok..big!) girl’s life was slowly expanding.

Yet in early February, her foster family noticed something off about Tillie’s mobility. A couple of veterinary visits later – including one with an orthopedic specialist – led to the discovery that both of Tillie’s back legs had torn cruciate ligaments and grade-3 luxating patella. What does this mean? She had an ACL tear in both her back legs AND both her back kneecaps were “floating” (pop in and out of the socket). Luxating patellas are common in small breed dogs but are extremely rare in large breed dogs. Due to the weight she would bear on her hind legs, this issue was deemed severe if left untreated.

Pet Haven had a decision to make. Help Tillie fight for her life, and the freedom to run…or allow her to face the alternative; a premature death.

Pet Haven decided to fight.

Thanks to the help of nearly 98 donors, $2,780 was given to support Tillie’s care! In February, she had surgery on her right leg…and your donations covered the surgery!

But unfortunately, Tillie’s journey has not been that simple.

The initial 8 weeks post-surgery went well. Tillie was confined when left alone, but otherwise received physical therapy every day from her foster parents. She was recovering a bit slower than the specialists had hoped for, but she was making progress.


The recovery time for ACL surgery is very long; about 4-6 months. In early May, Tillie was finally able to use her leg normally most of the time, meaning she was bearing weight on it during normal walking activities.

Then, in late May, Tillie regressed. She completely stopped using her back right leg and her behavior started to change. All she wanted to do was lie in her crate alone, and she no longer found pleasure in snuggling with her foster mama, playing with her foster fur-brother, nor going for walks; all of which brought her immense joy in the months prior.

Pet Haven brought Tillie to see the specialist, who recommended x-rays. Unfortunately, these images showed no abnormalities, so Tillie was put on a round of antibiotics.  When the medications failed to relieve her pain, Pet Haven proceeded to the next course of action- exploratory surgery on her knee that was operated on in February. During the exploratory surgery, the surgeon noticed something odd- the color of Tillie’s bone was discolored. The specialist sent in a sample to get biopsied and it came back positive for immune-mediated arthritis called lymphoplasmacytic synovitis.

In short, lymphoplasmacytic synovitis is an auto-immune disease that attacks the joints of its host. It is treated with a daily immunosuppressive medication called Cyclosporine, which costs approximately $200 per month. Sometimes this medication will resolve the issue after the initial treatment, and some dogs with this disease will need to be on the medication for the duration of their life.

The good news is that Pet Haven has identified Tillie’s issue and she’s on medication, alleviating her pain. Tillies’ foster mom is glad to report the following,

 “So far, Tillie has made great strides on this medication! I can tell she is feeling better because her personality has come out of her shell again.  I know it’s corny, but I can tell this girl is feeling better just by looking in her eyes. Even the staff at the vet said she looked so happy at her two-week follow up. She is more playful, wants to be around us ALL the time, and is even learning new tricks! She is using her leg about 95% of the time and muscle is starting to build. We are hopeful that with her leg muscle finally getting stronger, she will be fully recovered soon.”

All this good news comes at a cost, as Tillie’s medical expenses have totaled just over $4,000.

Pet Haven is unsure whether Tillie will need to be on medication for the rest of her life. She may require additional surgeries. Yet Pet Haven is incredibly grateful for the support Tillie has received from so many people. Now that she is on her third week of medication, she is feeling much better and she is back to her happy-go-lucky self!

If you are one of the 98 individuals who donated towards Tillie’s care, thank you! If you haven’t donated, but you would still like to help support this sweet gal via a financial contribution, we can still use the help! Any amount you give will go straight to her medical care, and we will be sure to keep you updated as this girl progresses to finding her forever home!  You can select the $10 for Tillie option under our special needs campaign or any other amount and in the comments section at the bottom of the page, indicate that the contribution is for Tillie.