In December of 1991, shortly after Whisper turned 7 years old, he was diagnosed with Canine Diabetes Mellitus. At the time I thought, how unusual for a dog to be diabetic. My Father had Diabetes, so I was aware of the symptoms. But I never realized that a dog could develop this as well. When he first became ill, I was so scared. I thought I would lose him. Maybe itís strange, but I distinctively remember how relieved I was to learn it was ďjustĒ Diabetes. Special food, a couple of shots - no big deal. (wrong) Whisperís Vet did warn me, trying to convince me that this disease would bring on complications, but at the time I just couldnít listen. I just wanted him to get well. This was something treatable, so letís get on with it, so I could bring Whisper home.
From that day on, our life was about to change. It might seem odd, but the bond between Whisper and I grew even closer. I had heard so many horror stories about chasing an animal down, needing someone else to hold them while the shot was given. From the first time I awkwardly attempted to inject him with insulin, he came right over and plopped his big fuzzy butt down. Not once did he ever fuss about getting his shots. It was if he knew this was something we had to do. Neither of us wanted to, but we did it anyway.
Whisper did very well with his treatment. Although, it did take him a little time to get used to the idea that he couldnít have any more treats. After all, he was on a very restricted diet. To compensate, I would cook him special meals. He was required to eat prescription food, (Canine WD) but I would add fresh hamburger (cooked well done, drained of fat), and broccoli, or hard boiled egg, or rice. Whisp ate better than the rest of the family! (So at least every 12 hours he got something special).
Years went by and Whisper did very well. Every 6 months he would need to have a glucose curve to make sure his sugar levels were stable. Of course I would check his urine daily, (Ketone / Glucose test strips) but every once and awhile a blood level curve was needed, since any sustained fluctuation could effect the rest of his health.
In the beginning, I would bring him to the Vetís office, leaving him there all day. (8am to 8pm) But after a few years of that, I decided (with the Dr.ís OK) that I would drive him down every 2 hours. I just couldnít stand the thought of him being away from me all day. The house was just so empty. When your whole life surrounds the will being of one soul, any little fluctuation has a devastating effect. (I realize Iím probably not a normal furmom, but when Whisper was sick - all normal life stopped.) I couldnít function until he was better. Boy, we had some tough times. Luckily, Glenn (my husband) was very understanding and supportive.
Whisper beat the odds many times. I can remember exactly four times when his doctors told me he should be dead. Once in 1992, when we moved, the pharmacy screwed up the prescription, doubling the amount of insulin in the dosage. (His blood sugar level dropped to 20, normal being around 100.) Then another time in 1995 when he had a severe infection caused by a catheter while taking a urine sample. Boy, the poor guy had tubes coming and going out of his tummy. We saw specialists in Berkeley every other day for Ultra-sounds and X-rays, and had enormous medical bills! Another time in Ď96, when a sickly dog got to close to him, giving him a strange infection, and in Ď97 when his health deteriorated such that any normal dog would have given up.
But Whisper had a powerful spirit. To this day I donít know if I was here for him, or he was here for me. I think we were here for each other. Dr. Ken Gonsier (the best veterinarian possible) mentioned to me that they had never come across a dog like Whisper before. Several times he needed to consult with experts at UC Davis, since there is very limited information on older diabetic animals. Most dogs donít survive longer than two years after diagnosis. (He had it for 7+ years) Whisper was quite a challenge, and a learning experience! He became great friends with all the staff at Dr. Gonsierís office. He was there so regularly, that everyone looked forward to his visits. (At first, the staff didnít know me from Adam, but they all knew Whisper.
He always had a big red kiss on his head - too much lipstick, I guess!) After the first few blood curves, where he had to be there all day, Whisper got the run of the hospital. They didnít need to keep him in the kennels where the other animals had to stay, he was allowed to visit everyone - 2 and 4 legged alike. It was like doggie day care for him, getting to play and talk to everyone. He was so good, that Dr. Gonsier told me that when it was time for his blood check (every 2 hours) Whisp would just come over and stick out his forearm! Iím not saying he enjoyed getting stuck with needles, but he always made the best of a not-so-good situation - even to the end.