I met Paul and Heather Ryan while I was attending the RV Entrepreneur Summit in Fredericksburg, Texas in February 2018. Heather gave a tax presentation that I sat in on. Getting to know her a little by asking tax questions which then led to our stories of our RV traveling pets who have special needs. Our stories resonated with each other. I told her about Krissie’s diabetes and she shared her story about their pup, Suji. I felt Suji’s journey needed to be told.
About the Ryans…
Paul and Heather are the Roamin Ryans. They travel with their two pups, Case and Suji. In September 2016, the Ryans sold their home in Denver to travel in their 5th wheel. So far, they both have traveled to over 30 states and 2 provinces. In Paul and Heather’s free time, they enjoy kayaking, hiking, running or spending a day walking around a new city.
While they don’t have specific goals as we travel, they do enjoy National Parks, State Parks, and other recreation areas. The Ryans love to visit local festivals and farmer’s markets. If there’s a local brewery, you’ll probably find them there relaxing with a brew.
Suji is their eight year old special needs dog. He’s a Shepherd mutt rescue pup. That’s what Heather we thinks. Last year, Suji fell ill.
Suji’s journey begins…
Suji was diagnosed with Addison’s disease during their RV travels in May of 2018. While this is a recent diagnosis, he exhibited symptoms way before then. Unfortunately, no Veterinarian could put all his symptoms together to give a proper diagnosis. He would have a health issue and then recover from it. Addison’s disease is known at the great imitator, hence, it’s why its so difficult to diagnosis.
Admittedly, it was the most stressful 2 months during their travels with Suji spending nine nights in emergency vet hospitals. They Ryans even relocated over 100 miles twice to get him to an emergency hospital. They seriously thought they were going to lose their boy. Heather and Paul struggled with no network supporting them in person; something they wish upon anyone. Case, their other dog was caught up in the stress and wouldn’t eat.
They are thankful for phones and some good friends/family who checked in often. Heather also found a non-profit, Canine Addison’s Research and Education (CARE) Facebook group that helped them with understand the disease, treatment and support.
How they manage Soji’s Veterinarian visits…
They Ryans typically find a local Veterinarian using Google reviews. Sometimes though, small towns only has one choice. Also, the non-profit, CARE: Canine Addison’s Research and Education, has a list of Veterinarians around the country that understand treating Addison’s disease. They try to make sure the Vets have heard of and/or have treated a pet with Addison’s before. Otherwise, they don’t understand the need for an electrolyte blood test. Heather and Paul learned to administer Suji’s medication on our their including daily meds and a monthly injection.
How they communicate with Veterinarians…
Paul and Heather knew it would be a challenge finding continued care. Their former Veterinarian in Denver agreed to still act as Suji’s and Case’s primary pet doctor. Heather emails all test results to his office. He, then, calls them to discuss results, medications, and generally check-in to see how Suji is doing. He also fulfills Suji’s prescription and refill requests.
How the Ryans manage Suji’s medication and diet…
Suji requires monthly blood work for his electrolyte levels. A Veterinarian is required for this procedure.
Fortunately, he does not need a special diet. Suji gets his medicine with his morning meal. His appetite has actually increased since they have started treatment. One of the symptoms of untreated Addison’s disease is lack of appetite. Every morning, Suji is administered his meds (prednisone) or he will show signs of stress (tremors and muscle weakness). He also gets his injection one a month or every 28 days. Since Suji was diagnosed on the first of the month , they keep that date for his monthly injection.
How Suji’s special needs has impacted their RV travels and excursions…
The Ryans are very aware of stress levels which are from both good and bad sources. Even a day out playing or a long hike is a stressor on his body body even though it’s fun. When Heather and Paul take their pups on a hike, they take Suji’s meds should he need a boost.
He recently played hard in a river by their campground and needed a boost in medicine afterwards. How did they know? Trembling is his first tell-tale sign of too much fun or too much stress. If he doesn’t improve, they cut their hike short. If they know their hike will be long or strenuous, Suji stays behind in their fifth wheel. He’s also prone to stress around lots of people and extreme heat. The Ryans try to limit activity to cooler parts of the day or stay in cooler locations.
Fireworks, trains or other loud unusual noises are stressors as well. They try to avoid those situations, but that’s not always easy. Signs of stress in Addison’s in dogs include tremors, muscle weakness, diarrhea and skin ailments. So you can bet they know he will need an extra dosage. Their ultimate goal is to be on the lowest dose of daily meds and monthly injections as possible.
In case of emergency…
Suji had three emergency Veterinarian visits during the past year. Suji’s first was after hiking in Banff.
Another emergency visit was while we were touring Savannah. We first sought help from a local vet, but they sent us over 100 miles to the nearest emergency vet hospital in Charleston because of his symptoms.
The last emergency vet visit was a move from Myrtle Beach to Columbia, SC. This is where he was finally diagnosed with Addison’s disease. Needless to say we have seen many Veterinarians across the United States and even in Canada!
Follow the RoaminRyans: