Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Diabetic Moose

As we left the breeder's home with our new puppy in hand, he called out after us, "You're in for a treat!" She turned out to be the wackiest and most wonderful little dog imaginable, named "Moose" by our 6 year old son. Brimming with energy and personality, she would dart across the carpet like a maniac and around the couch like a crazed proton in a particle accelerator.

She eventually ended up having surgery to repair damaged ligaments, first in one knee and then, the other. Apparently, it wasn't related to her high-speed antics, it was more likely a "Westie thing". Moose was part-mountain goat, climbing, undaunted, onto stacked and fluffed bed pillows, backs of couches and the shoulders of drivers. She was part-warrior of play and when our eyes locked, the challenge was intense and mutual. Her eyes aren't what they used to be. A mere nine weeks after being diagnosed with diabetes and, at eight years old, our little white terrier is mostly blind now.

It started around the beginning of the year, when her nose became dry and crusty on one side and her crotch blackened. Suspecting an immune condition, our vet prescribed steroids and then, a few weeks later, as her thirst intensified and urination went uncontrolled, he informed us Moose had diabetes. For our family and for Moose, the changes have been significant.

We find ourselves stuck somewhere between maddened and saddened. Like Moose, we're struggling to get used to glucose curves and twice daily insulin injections. She still has ample energy and piles of personality, but we hear occasional crashes and bumps in areas of the house that used to be intimately familiar to her.

A poll released by Ralston Purina in 1999 showed 48 per cent of Canadian dog owners said spending time with their pet relieves stress because of the unconditional love their dogs provide. We can tell you that hasn't changed with Moose.

The injections, administered so devotedly by my wife, started at two units and, over the course of several weeks, have gradually climbed to nine-units and we're still adjusting as we go. Our vet's interest in Moose's case seems passing at best, as does his knowledge of diabetes. He has admitted his decision to administer steroid treatment may have sparked the diabetes, or accelerated its onset. We want to blame the vet for failing to get the diabetes under control quickly enough. Her nose is moist again and she is gaining weight and we're hoping a visit to the animal hospital in St-Hyacinthe later this summer will somehow prove reassuring.

Mostly, we want Moose to keep wagging her tail. I would refer to courage, determination, coping and other fine human qualities, but then I catch myself; she's a dog.

I'm so thankful myself, my wife and son are healthy, but a part of me knows...our friend Moose probably feels the same way.

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