Poke is a 10 year old Golden Lab "mix". By looking at her picture you
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
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
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,
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
been raised to 45mg twice a day, as she continues to have an occasional
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
pancreatitis were "early warnings" of her current diagnosis of
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
able to help her. I'm now able to remain calm and talk to her through
making sure she can't fall or harm herself while she is going through
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
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
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
as I had never had any experience with diabetes before. I kept rationalizing
away every symptom, mostly attributing them to "she's getting older".
example: she's peeing in the house, (even though she had never done
before) so she must not want to go out at night because of the cold,
laziness....she's loosing weight, but that's good because she always
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
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,
to talk to people I know at work, etc....telling them about Poke. Most
are not aware that dogs can get diabetes, or what the symptoms would
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
shot time...I have to fudge it each day by 15 minute increments to
work out roughly at 12 hour intervals each day. Poke has been home-fed
shortly after her seizures began, as I started looking into the contents
commercial foods and decided I could do better myself. But nowadays
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
know she needs them. She went through a period of fighting me about
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
got a lot of suggestions from the email list on how to make her shot
go more smoothly, and it seems to be working.
She does, however, love the ground turkey and veggie meat loaf recipe
got from a list member, and the suggestion of using jack mackerel...which
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
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