What could be sweeter then a diabetic pet?

Just prior to his 11th birthday in June 1998, we noticed that Derek, a
border collie, had been drinking copious amounts of water and wetting the
kitchen floors where he and our other border collie, Belle, slept.  He had
just finished a long weight loss programme - he was 10kg overweight before
the diet and was a nice trim 26 kg again.  As time passed, this drinking and
weeing activity increased.  I had gestational diabetes myself with both my
pregnancies and was insulin dependant for the last trimester of both
pregnancies.  I wasn't sure if dogs could get it too, but the symptoms looked
exactly the same.

We would send Derek out into the front garden each night before he went to
bed and the night before his birthday, on June 9th 1998 he got lost and
couldnt find his way back into the house.   We were quite concerned about
this and realised that his eyes had started to cloud over.

The next morning, I took him and Belle to the vets for their annual
vaccinations.  A new vet took our consultation.  I told her I suspected
Derek had diabetes.  She did a quick on-the-spot urine test and sure enough,
there was glucose present in the urine.  I was devestated.  I started to
cry.  I had to leave him for 4 days so she could start him on insulin.  I
came and visited him every day.  He was confined to a small cage in a room,
but was let out regularly for some fresh air and exercise, although, she
said he didnt wander far.  He seemed pleased to see me each day I came, but
appeared a bit disoriented.

It wasnt until I brought him home that I realised something was terribly
wrong.  He was walking into everything, tripping over, and looking extremely
miserable.  He had gone totally blind.

I was given a sheet of paper with instructions on how to care for him. 
I was to test his urine morning and night, and if it showed anything above a
trace level of glucose for two readings, I was to increase his insulin by 10%.

We yo-yoed like this for weeks.  I knew this was not the correct way to
regulate him.  I knew insulin was very delicate and that so many factors
could influence bg's.  The new vet put Derek on a prescription canned food
diet.  It was the same brand as the weight loss food he had been on for 10
months, but this was a high calorie performance diet, and I was to feed him
2 cans per day, or 1750 calories per day.  He was only on 800 calories per
day on the weight loss programme and I was really sceptical about feeding
him so much.  She was not the vet who looked after him during his weight
loss period.  Of couse, it wasnt long before Derek gained all of his weight
again.  I was so angry at her, that I refused to deal with her again.
 Shedidn't last very long at our clinic.

His blindness was very distressing to my husband and I.  Derek was our
"first child" and we loved him more than anything and were prepared to go to
any lengths to make him happy and well.  Two weeks after diagnosis, I asked
our regular vet (not that new inexperienced girl) about his sight returning.
He told me about cataract surgery and that they might do one eye only.  I
got a referal immediately and took Derek to see the opthamologist.

The opthamologist we saw is one of Australias best.  He told me Derek was a
perfect candidate for surgery and scheduled in for the earliest appointment
which was six weeks away.  A couple of nights before his operation, I sat on
my computer and connected to the internet for only the third time or so
since I had the internet installed.
 I searched for canine diabetes and found Judy's Website on Pet Diabetes.

The rest is pretty much history.  Derek had extremely successful cataract
surgery and can see as well as he did before.  He doesn't have lens implants
either.  I discovered on the email list that you could do blood glucose tests at
home, and
Derek became on of the first dogs in Australia to do so.  Diabetes Australia
helped me with choosing a meter.  I took Derek into the city offices where
he became an instant celebrity.  They wrote an article for their magazine
which you can read at  www.petdiabetes.com/derek.html

Recently I contacted Diabetes Australia and gave them an update on Derek.
They came over and interviewed me again and another article now appears in
the September 2000 edition of their magazine.

 Read the second story by clicking here.

I have taken an aggressive approach dealing with Dereks condition.  The
opthamologist referred me to a diabetes specialist - another of the best in
Australia.  Together, the specialist and I work at maintaining Derek at
reasonably normal bg's.  I gather information from reading the daily posts
from the email list and apply what I feels fits Derek's situation.  I ask heaps of
questions to the list and to our specialist.

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism and hypertension were also made,
and are also being sucessfully treated.

How has the diagnosis of diabetes in your pet affected your life?  I have
made diabetes fit into our lives rather than letting it rule the house.  I
am too busy with young children and Scouting to be constantly worried about
Derek.  It is this relaxed attitude, I guess, that enables me to think
clearly in a crisis.

I have also made hundreds of wonderful and dear friends from around the
world, who I will get to meet - one day.  I thank you all from the bottom of
my heart for the wealth of knowledge you have bestowed upon me. 
I love you all.

In October of the year 2000 I had the opportunity to fly to Detroit, Michigan
and Judy, Terry and Queenie picked me and my husband up and we stayed a couple
of days with them in Leamington, Ontario, Canada before returning to Vegas and
then back to Australia. We had a marvellous time in the fog ....IT was very foggy
in Canada on those days and I really do wonder if Lake Erie exists in front of Judy's
house or if it is just a large bank of fog.

 To Read More Diabetic Pet Stories - Click Here!