Poke is a 10 year old Golden Lab "mix". By looking at her picture you might
think there is no "mix" about it, until you realize how small she is,
standing 18 inches at the shoulder and weighing in at 35-40 pounds.

She was a pound puppy. Our story between us is that she didn't like the
home she was in so she went to the pound to "shop" for a new one. From 
the beginning, she has been the most serene, laid-back dog I have ever 
known, her one mission in life is to somehow combine being right where I
am at all times and taking a nap at the same time!

Poke's medical problems began two years ago, when she had her first
grand-mal seizure. After several tests to look for underlying causes, and a
second seizure three weeks later, she was eventually diagnosed with
epilepsy. It's my understanding that a diagnosis of epilepsy in dogs
involves just that: seizures for which there can be found no underlying
causes. So, Poke began taking Phenobarbital, 30mg twice a day, which has
been raised to 45mg twice a day, as she continues to have an occasional
breakthrough seizure.

Three months after her first seizure, Poke had a bad bout of pancreatitis.
She was treated for this with a round of antibiotics and put on a "bland
diet", and recovered quickly, although I now wonder if the seizures and the
pancreatitis were "early warnings" of  her current diagnosis of diabetes.

Her seizures have, in a way, been a "training camp" for me, because I had to
learn to focus myself, contain my own fear of losing her or of not being
able to help her. I'm now able to remain calm and talk to her through them,
making sure she can't fall or harm herself while she is going through them.

In a way, her epilepsy helped prepare me, and her, for her eventual 
diabetes diagnosis. When it came in Feb, 2002, less than two months ago, 
our response was "OK, we will handle this".(Secretly though, I've been
scared to death to have this additional concern about Poke's health, 
fears about whether I can handle it, do the right things for her....that I might 
lose her due to my own incompetence). I work and study a lot online, 
and it wasn't long before I found the email list, which has been a 
tremendous resource for information and support.

It took me a long time to realize that something was going wrong for Poke,
as I had never had any experience with diabetes before. I kept rationalizing
away every symptom, mostly attributing them to "she's getting older". For
example: she's peeing in the house, (even though she had never done that
before) so she must not want to go out at night because of the cold, or
laziness....she's loosing weight, but that's good because she always has
been a little sausage, and etc. Between the time I made a vet appointment
and the actual day of the appointment she had dropped dramatically. 
She had lost almost a third of her body weight and could barely get into
the car for the trip under her own steam.

So one way it has changed my life is to be more aware of subtle changes, and
to talk to people I know at work, etc....telling them about Poke. Most people
are not aware that dogs can get diabetes, or what the symptoms would be.

Another big difference for us is that Poke and I have had to become
"regulated" behavior-wise. Gone are the days of lazing in bed in the
mornings; we must be up and on schedule, meals and shots on time!  I have a
varied work schedule, so it's been difficult sticking to an exact meal and
shot time...I have to fudge it each day by 15 minute increments to have it
work out roughly at 12 hour intervals each day. Poke has been home-fed since
shortly after her seizures began, as I started looking into the contents of
commercial foods and decided I could do better myself. But nowadays I pay
more attention to her calorie intake, balance of meats and fiber.

For Poke, this has been a confusing time. She hates the shots, but seems to
know she needs them. She went through a period of fighting me about them,
but just tonight as she saw me preparing her insulin she walked up to me and
took the shot just as she has learned to do with her Phenobarbital pills. I
got a lot of suggestions from the email list on how to make her shot time
go more smoothly, and it seems to be working.

She does, however, love the ground turkey and veggie meat loaf recipe that I
got from a list member, and the suggestion of using jack mackerel...which I
use to make a "sea food salad" for her. Our biggest wish is for a blender,
or osterizer so we can make our own fresh version of V-8.

Right now, Poke is on 5 units of HumulinN twice daily with a meal. 
Her vet has said she can have snacks, but the two meals a day 
seem to keep her satisfied, and she has gained a bit of weight back.
I'm waiting for her next blood glucose curves to be done next week,
to see how she is doing at this level of insulin.

It's early on in Poke's diagnosis, and I've written what I have here
in the hopes that some other newcomer will run across it. Our story so
far is short on knowledge or recommendations, but it's huge on 
willingness and hope. As for this website, and it's members...
I'm so thankful to have "met" them. So many of its members have 
gone out of their way to give me information about
diets, blood glucose levels, shot-giving advise 
and just plain emotional support. :)

Linda and Poke