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I saw Julie for the first time in one of the Yorkie chat groups I used to belong to in 2001. She was the smallest puppy in a litter of three born to a couple of Yorkies owned by a girl who bought them both from a "breeder" near Ft. Worth, Texas.  The Yorkie mother died in an accident at their home when the puppies were only five weeks old. I fell in love with Julie because she looked so much like my late Joy (1985-1992) when she was a puppy.  When Julie was eight weeks old, I flew from South Florida to pick her up at the Austin Airport. I drove 160 miles and took four flights in one single day. She was even more precious in person! She was tiny and very playful, but very picky when eating.
As I had 2 Yorkie girls by then, and they ate pretty well, I couldn’t understand why Julie was such a poor eater. Although she was playful, her  naps would be a little bit too long in comparison to all other Yorkies I have had.

One day, when she was 4˝ months old, I gave her a very protein-rich meal for lunch (boiled chicken breast with hard boiled eggs!). She ate very well which made me happy since she was such a picky eater. After lunch, she became especially lethargic. and at the end of the day, she threw up “all” of that meal in a white foamy liquid. That was a Sunday. On that Monday, I took her to my vet and ordered a Liver Bile Acid Levels test to see if she had numbers compliant with a liver problem like Liver Shunt or MVD.
Indeed her numbers came out too high indicating a possible Liver Shunt (or shunts). We decided right there we wanted the best for our little girl, so we set an appointment with Dr. Karen Tobias at the University of Tennessee Veterinary School. Dr. Tobias was already known for her extensive research on Liver Shunt, MVD, etc., for the numerous Yorkies and other breeds she had operated on with a high success rate! We felt that if somebody could save our special girl, that someone was Dr. Karen Tobias. Julie was put on a low protein diet (l/d by Hills), Lactulose and an antibiotic.
We then drove from South Florida to Tennessee with the 3 Yorkie girls we had then, Jackie, Brenda & Julie. On September 11, 2001 Julie had a scintigraphy (nuclear scan) done by Dr. Tobias and her team. They called us in the afternoon to let us know Julie indeed had a shunt, but the good news was that it was a portosystemic shunt (outside the liver), one of the operable shunts! On the following day Dr. Tobias operated on her placing a constrictor ring on her shunt, and also spayed her at our request. We went to visit Julie on the following day and brought her back the day after that. She slept on my lap the whole trip and the most special bond I have ever had with a dog began.
She was on Lactulose for a couple of weeks more and stayed on the low protein diet (l/d by Hills) for 2 more months until she had a new Bile Acid Levels Test which had a normal result. Dr. Tobias said then she could eat regular dog food. We were thrilled!
And she has been well ever since as far as the liver shunt is concerned. Julie, however, due to her bad breeding, also had two other genetic diseases – PRA (Progressive Retina Atrophy, which eventually will make her blind and there is no cure), and Periodontal Disease, which has caused her to lose many teeth prematurely.

In 2007 I had her Bile Acid Levels tested again just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, the numbers were slightly high indicating a possible MVD. Since then, Julie is back on a low protein diet (L/D by Hills and Royal Canin Hepatic kibbles). She has no symptoms and is doing great! 

She is one of the biggest loves of my life!  


Dr. Karen Tobias (right) and Dr. Ann holding Julie one day after her liver shunt surgery at the University of Tennessee.