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Last Updated:
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Joan of Ark

Joan 04 03 09

Joanie was found near death on the side of a road in Denton, TX.  Named Joan of Ark, after the Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter (Gainsville, TX) who nursed her back from the brink, Joanie was brought into an ATDR foster home for a higher level of care and specialized vetting.  She was in extreme condition with severe emaciation (only 6 lbs for her apparent body size of 18 lbs), dehydration, malnutrition and hair loss.  She was so weak she could not stand for more than a minute or two.  The story of her determined fight for life spread far, across every ocean and 6 continents.  So many hearts were touched by little Joanie: volunteers and vets… friends and strangers…and none more than her foster family.  After she crossed the bridge, it was determine that Joanie was suffering from an extremely advanced and virulent case of Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).  This was already assumed to be her condition after all other possibilities had been ruled out, but final confirmation would have required a procedure she would not have survived.  There is no cure for IBD, only management, and so Joanie’s ongoing treatments, food, and medications were structured towards this goal.  She had fought so hard and long, showing so much feisty spirit and determination during her brief stay with us.  However, the severe and advanced state of the disease proved too much for her valiant spirit to overcome.  Although the devastating decision to free her from her pain was already being discussed with her foster family, in the end, Joanie faced her final journey on her own terms and took with her the love of many, many hearts. 

The Joan of Ark Memorial Fund, has been created to establish a way to save, treat and rehabilitate other Dachshunds who are victims of extreme injuries or disease such as broken bones, Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), distemper and other life threatening or severe conditions.  It is our hope that Joanie’s quiet light will shine on, and donations in her memory will provide a chance at life for other special needs Dachchunds, giving them new, better futures in loving homes.

Follow Joanie's full story below

Report from Noah's Ark - The vet said Joanie was the worst case of emaciation he had ever seen in a living dog.  She has no visible muscle mass and is literally skin and bones.  We don't know how this happened, but Joanie is one tough little dachshund.  She's learning to trust people again, and has learned that everyone who encounters her now wants to shower her with love and compassion.  Because she is so thin and frail, she eats small meals throughout the day.  She will need some dental work at some point in the future, but that will have to wait until she's whole again.  Her blood work came back showing anemia, but amazingly there were no signs of illness or renal failure.  She is also heartworm NEGATIVE, much to everyone's surprise.  She is now taking short walks outside for brief potty breaks, then she settles down for a nap in her soft little bed, covered in blankets.

April 16, 2009 - A loving and experienced foster family has welcomed Joanie into their home where she will be closely monitored and cared for around the clock.  Little Joanie has a long road ahead of her and she will require extensive blood work, a special diet, gradual exercise and lots & lots of TLC to see her through the next few months.  If Joanie has touched your heart like she has ours, please consider making a donation toward her ongoing care.  We will post frequent updates on this precious soul so that all who have fallen in love with her can follow the progress of her journey.  Our heartfelt thanks to Debbie Lhotka, Noah's Ark Animal Shelter in Gainesville for taking the first brave step to save this special life, and for trusting us to do the rest.

Joanie had her first visit with an ATDR vet today.   She is in a catabolic state which is preventing her from gaining weight - a result of severe starvation where the body starts breaking down to produce energy/calories.  He prescribed an anabolic steroid to reverse the condition, but it's a controlled substance and not readily available.  Cindy, Joanie's foster mom, called and visited about 20 pharmacies before she finally found one who will compound a special chicken flavored dose for Joanie.  It will be ready Monday, April 20th.  While at the vet's office they weighed her - she weighs 7 pounds, but this INCLUDES HER BED.

Joanie's doing as well as can be expected.  Her menu today consisted of two good sized hamburger patties (with cheese); 1/2 can of IVD brand Duck and Potato canned food (all spaced out throughout the day in very small portions), and she enjoyed a few very tiny licks of cherry vanilla yogurt for dessert.  She remains alert when she is awake, but she has been sleeping a lot, which is a good thing.

April 18, 2009 - Joanie is more alert today and resting comfortably in her bed, covered up with her fleece blanket in true dachshund fashion.  Cindy thinks she saw a little tail wag today, but can't be certain.

April 19, 2009 - Cindy had some gardening to do today & it was such a pretty day Joanie came out for some fresh air.  She was very "active", sniffing the air, soaking up the sunshine, even walking the rows of the garden for a bit.  All this activity made her sleepy so she rounded out the day with a nap under the apple tree.

Joanie in sunshine
Joanie enjoying the sunshine

Resting after her walk


April 21, 2009 - Joanie had her first dose of the anabolic steroid Winstrol yesterday.  Veterinary Pharmacies of America in Houston prepared it in "chicken flavored" liquid form and she'll get it twice daily.  She has a very good appetite and her drinking has definitely increased since she started the Winstrol.  Cindy says she's more alert today and has gone for two walks in the garden.  Her bark is a little stronger too.  She was weighed using a baby scale and it registered 3.56 pounds yesterday.  Today she weighs 3.58 pounds.

April 23, 2009 - Today's update comes from Joanie's Foster Mom, Cindy.  "Joanie has shared a week of her life with me as of today. Despite the fact there is very little change in her appearance, there have been very obvious changes in her personality and overall being.  She is stronger,  more alert and, though she rests a lot, she does not sleep as much. She does not growl when I go to pick her up like she did at first and I think that is because maybe she just feels a little better overall.  Her appetite continues to be good and her water intake is steady.  I put up a puppy pen outside under one of our big trees and she has spent the majority of yesterday and today hanging out – watching the birds come to the feeder above and over just a bit from her, enjoying the breezes and filtered sunlight and putting out an occasional much healthier bark when one of my crew gets too close to her pen for her liking.  I am pleased to report that she weighed 3.6 pounds this morning, before breakfast so she is going in the right direction so far!  I am going to need to get her a bigger bed too (actually two new beds – one for inside and one for outside).  She really enjoyed stretching out on a pillow today while outside.  She stretched out and put her little foot up in the air towards me as if to say “scratch my chest”, but we just did not quit there.  The absolute best part of the day today was when I picked her up to bring her inside she actually gave me a little lick on the cheek – I GOT A KISS!!!!  How great is that!?!?"

Resting 4 23 09

Stretching 4 23 09

Resting 4 23 09

April 29, 2009 - Joanie had a small setback just after her 1 week update.  She became a little aggressive and it was obviously from the steroids, so her dose has been reduced and she seems to have leveled off now and is more like her former self.  She is so much stronger already and doesn't wobble or fall forward nearly as much as she did only a week ago.  She's up and moving around more and even played a little with her blanket today.  She went to back to the vet this morning and she weighed 8 POUNDS (without her bed)!!  The vet's notes show she weighed 6 pounds on the 17th so she's gained TWO pounds!  (Note - The baby scale was not right and we apologize for the inaccurate information.)  All the prayers, good thoughts, boiled chicken and steroids have made a significant difference in Joanie's life.  Please keep the prayers and good thoughts coming; Cindy will take care of the chicken and steroids!!

Joanie 4 29 09

Joanie 4 29 09

Joanie playing 4 29 09

May 13, 2009 - Hi everyone!  So sorry for the delay in posting an update on Joanie; our webmaster has been on vacation!  All the news on Joanie is good, as she continues to thrive and soak up plenty of TLC, good food and relaxation.  A few days ago she spent a big part of the day outside helping her foster parents, Mike & Cindy "work" in the yard.  She must've worked up quite an appetite because when she came inside she discovered her foster brother's food dish and proceeded to eat the entire bowl of Wellness kibble!  As you can imagine, Wellness is now on her list of foods!  Her weight hasn't changed much, but she has gained about a 1/2 pound.  Her attitude is wonderful, she's much stronger and she's moving about more & more to explore her surroundings.  We are all so touched by the outpouring of support and emails we're receiving for Joanie!  Thank you all for your good thoughts and prayers for this tough little girl!!

May 21, 2009 - Look at the Glamour Girl!  The news continues to be good for little Joanie.  While she hasn't gained much weight (she's holding steady at 8.5 lbs) her coat is looking better and she's feeling GREAT!  She's alert, active and is pretty much Cindy's shadow around the house.  What Cindy does, Joanie does; if there's yardwork or gardening to be done Joanie's right in the middle of things; and she has a bed set up in Cindy's office so she can monitor all activity in there as well.  When she's not with Cindy, she's set up in the utility room with beds and several piles of blankets & sheets so she can hide in different parts of the room - and she does; she goes from pile to pile!  Her energy level is good; she can trot down the driveway and does it almost daily!  This past weekend Joanie attended a local animal event with Cindy and she spent some time visiting our volunteers while they worked the booth.  She got plenty of laptime as they took turns holding her in one of her new beds.  Here are some photos taken on Sunday, May 17th.  What a beauty!

Joanie Glamour Shot

Glamour Girl



Getting ready for a nap

This is not my color

May 28, 2009 - Joanie continues to grow stronger and Cindy says, "she's extremely happy!!".  She has so much rebuilding to do internally, but if you look closely you can see the improvements in her coat and overall appearance.  She's grown quite comfortable in her new surroundings and has plenty of outdoor space to explore and enjoy.  Of course she also gets plenty of lap time and TLC when she's not outside soaking up the sunshine!  Here's a couple of photos taken a few days ago when she was out surveying the property.



June 14, 2009 -  Joanie's progress has been, and will continue to be extremely slow.  Her body is unable to digest food properly.  While she was on her own, starving, her body did the only thing it could do – it began digesting her own intestines and her pancreas in an effort to survive. The lining of her intestines and her pancreas are badly damaged because of this.  The vets have determined it will take about a year for the lining of the intestine to repair itself.  In the meantime, she is being given pancreatic enzymes to assist her in digesting and absorbing more of her food.  We will post updates and pictures as frequently as we can while she continues to improve.  Her activity level is getting better every day and hopefully, one day soon she'll start to look like a normal dog. Should anything major occur and we have anything new to report, we will surely let you all know.  Thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts that have been sent her way!

June 7th

June 7th

July 8, 2009 -  This update comes from Joanie's foster mom.  "Joanie has been on pancreatic enzymes for a little over a week now.  She's been very interested in eating, along with getting up and around more.  She has varied her menu and is dining on two different brands of kibble, Wellness still seeming to be her favorite.  The dry food is down all the time for her, and 3 times a day she also gets her serving of wet food with the enzymes mixed in.  She recently took possession of a huge dog bed – it actually belongs to one of my Lab rescues, but she found it one day and has made it her own. The center pillow has been replaced by one of her favorite comforters though, because she was having a tough time burying herself under that big pillow!  It stays under the desk in the office, right next to the computer station and she can peek out and check on me periodically.  She had lost a little weight, but is back up to 8.5 pounds. Her first rib, closest to her chest, is almost gone from sight!  We continue the Winstrol only once a day now and just this week when I had the Vet call in a refill for her, the young lady at Veterinary Pharmacies of America said that the owner had read her story and was so touched by what we were doing for her that he instructed them to refill Joanie's prescription at no charge!"

Joanie Jul 4 09

Joanie July 4 09

August 18, 2009 - Joanie was referred to the Texas A&M Veterinary Hospital and had her appointment there yesterday.  The Vets were quite intrigued by her and she was there for several hours.  She had a thorough exam and several tests were done, including one for Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency or EPI.  The test results were negative so her lack of weight gain is still a mystery.  We're waiting on results of a test for Addison's disease now, and will follow up with A&M when those results come in.  In the meantime, Joanie feels good, is quite active and eating well.  She even took a pair of chiweenie puppies under her wing!  They're new foster puppies who invaded Joanie's big comfy bed and think she's their Momma!  We'll post an update when we have news from A&M.  Thanks to everyone for your care and support for Joanie!


September 30, 2009 - Joanie's test results all came back negative, including the one for Addison's disease so the vets at A&M prescribed a high calorie diet (Royal Canin Recovery) and indicated her progress will be very slow as her body continues to repair itself.  Her digestive tract is still very delicate and her diet is being closely monitored.  Joanie is happy and continues to enjoy a very comfy & relaxing life in her foster home.  Please consider making a donation to help cover the cost of Joanie's Royal Canin food!

Joanie Sept 09

Joanie Sept 09

Joanie Sept 09

October 15, 2009 -  For all you wonderful people out there who have been keeping up with, contributing to, and praying for Joanie's recovery, we have an update for you.  We wish with all our hearts it could be a more positive update, but it simply isn't.  Joanie is going to need all the contributions, healing rays and prayers you can possibly send her way.  She is now in an even more dire fight for her life, but Fighting She Is.
Within days of our last update Joanie started waking up in the middle of the night barking.  Her foster mom would find her standing in a corner staring at the wall.  She seemed a bit disoriented but she knew who her Mom was when she picked her up and returned her to her bed.  Our first  thought was she had a touch of dementia or maybe her little eyes were beginning to fail.  Some nights she would stay in her bed and bark until her foster mom would go to her so she then began to think that maybe she was creating a monster of sorts.  This week Joanie got into a corner between the computer desk and the wall - it is maybe 8 inches wide - and must have panicked.  She may have been trying to claw her way out or trying to get turned around; she scratched herself up quite a bit and was completely undone and exhausted when her foster mom found her.  Joanie had quite an emotional setback over this incident and she even refused to eat!  The following day she appeared even more disoriented and her mom began syringing electrolytes down her every few hours and got some of the recovery canned food down her in the same fashion.  Joanie slept a great deal and would make no attempt whatsoever to mobilize herself.  The following morning her foster mom took her to our vet, Dr. Powell. 

She weighed in at 7 lbs, had blood work done and her electrolytes were checked. Electrolytes were normal.  All the important blood levels where significantly lower than they had been in mid August at A&M.  We discussed her episode from a few days prior and the possibility of her developing dementia.  It is Dr. Powell's opinion that what we were seeing, and probably have been seeing over the past few weeks, is the brain's reaction to the body's inability to absorb the necessary nutrients to function normally.

His observation was as follows:  The intestinal wall is thickened due to the cellular constitution and the only way to diagnose the condition further is to do a biopsy.  The procedure requires anesthesia and Joanie would probably not do well or survive the process.  This would only enable us to put a label on the problem, but the risks are just too high to even attempt this.  Dr. Powell's recommended course of action is to give Joanie whatever she wants to eat, WHENEVER she wants to eat it!  So, we are trying different foods to find out what is most palatable for Joanie.  The last few days, she is loving hamburger patties, and that is encouraging.

We know so many of you are with us when we say this breaks our hearts.  Our Joanie has fought so hard to live.  We must be heartened though by the fact that in the last few months she has known more wonderful care, more soft beds, more great food, and more love and prayers than most of us get in a lifetime.  So if you will, please continue sending positive thoughts and prayers Joanie's way until it's time for her to end her struggles.  Joanie is doing everything in her power to continue her fight for life, the least we can do is whatever we can to assist her.  Again, thank all of you who have kept her in your thoughts, made donations to her care, and cared about such a deserving spirit.

Nov 1, 2009 - We have sad news to report.  Our little Joanie passed away this morning.  She died quietly and peacefully in the arms of her foster Mom.  We are very saddened by this news and will post more information later.  Please keep Joanie's foster parents, Cindy and Mike in your thoughts.


In April 2009, a sweet, feisty little soul came drifting into the lives and hearts of the ATDR volunteers. Sadly in early November, after 7 months of ups and downs, and despite all the efforts of her foster family and the many vets from Houston and Texas A&M who generously provided for her care, little Joanie slipped quietly away, wrapped in the arms of her foster mom, to drift back out of our lives, peacefully over the rainbow.  In honor of Joanie, her spirit that touched so many hearts, and her sheer will to survive, we have created the Joan of Ark Memorial Fund, to be used to help other Dachshunds who have been victims of extreme injuries or disease. It is our hope that Joanie’s legacy will live on, inspiring future donations in her memory to provide a chance at life for other special needs cases who’s outcomes, with Joanie watching over them, will leave them here with us….healed…..and with new, better futures in loving homes. And for those who must move on as Joanie did, we know she will be waiting to welcome them into the soft green grass and the cool peppermint breeze, somewhere, over the rainbow.

Joanie's Supporters

Cindy and Mike Manning
Debbie Lhotka
Amy Abadia
Cherry Abadia
Jane Adams
Maria Adams
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Carol Ahrens
Connie Alderson
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Jane Cohen
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