Apparently, they do.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Puppies don't get sick, do they?
Apparently, they do.
Some of you may have read about our dog, Frasier. He's a miniature schnauzer who we rescued a few years back (see here for his first entry, here for second, and here for everything else), and is about to celebrate his fifth birthday.
He wasn't feeling so well last week, which in and of itself wasn't alarming. After all, he's quite the inventive garbage-eater, always figuring out a way to sneak past the ever-evolving and multiple layers of babyproofing we've thrown up around the house. Sometimes as a result of his exploits, he'd spend a few days with the doggie equivalent of a boo-boo tummy. He'd lie low, give us his pathetic look, and eventually just bounce back.
Well, this time he didn't just get better. He was drinking voraciously. He wasn't himself. We knew.
The vet confirmed it this weekend: furball has diabetes. Which means we've begun to inject him with insulin, and our schedule now becomes a little - okay, a lot - more involved as we time his shots, meals and snacks around his twice-daily dates with a needle.
We've been through this before - our cat became diabetic a few months before we lost him. But he was older, and you sort of expect stuff to happen to an older pet. Frasier's still a pup, still has years ahead of him. We weren't ready for this vibrant dog to suddenly turn into a sick dog.
But that's the thing about life: You just don't know what it'll throw at you. You can be fine one day and sick the next. Or not here at all. It applies just as much to animals as it does to humans. It's never predictable. It never has anything to do with how nice or not nice you've been. It's never fair.
But it is reality. And part of me feels like fate has let this sweet thing down, like we rescued him from an abusive home only to have this - this - happen to him. But see my previous paragraph: We don't control what happens to us, or to our dogs. We only control what we do next.
Harsh as it may seem, it is something we will deal with as a family. I'm already using every alarm and timer on my Timex Ironman Triathlon watch to track every event during his now tightly-scheduled day. I'm always following him through the house to make sure he's not getting himself into trouble. I know where the honey is in the pantry in case he becomes unresponsive and needs us to force-feed it to him. I'm learning how to hide my own fears whenever we discuss his health with the kids, how to share everything we can with them without scaring them in the process.
Unfortunately, they know what it's like to lose both pets and people. They understand how chronic illness can paint the tone of a family, can color its days and add an invisible weight to everything we say and do. They've grown up with it, so this is almost old hat to them. I think I'm worrying for nothing. And I wish they could worry about other things, instead.
But here's the thing: For as long as we have him - a day, a year, a decade, whatever it is - he's their dog, their unconditional best friend. And while he may seem a little fragile as he gets used to his new reality, he's still the very center of their world, still the loud-mouthed dog who howls at everyone he meets and jumps all over anyone who'll let him. Noah gave him a hug as he got out of the shower and headed to his room for tuck-in. He lingered over his ears for a little longer than usual, giving each one a kiss before he wandered off. He spoke to him as he always does, gently. And the dog looked at him as he always does, gently.
Nothing had changed. At least not the things that mattered to them. Maybe that's what we'll focus on in the weeks ahead as we get used to the next chapter in this dog's life.
Your turn: Got any words for Frasier?