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Friday, April 24, 2015

An Odyssey

     Two of my friends lost their dog companions last month. Those who have gone through this experience can understand the pain of this kind of loss. It got me thinking of the many dogs and cats we have had over the years. Each one unique and special in their own way.

     When our children were little and we bought our first house we felt we could get a dog. So my husband took our son and daughter to the local animal shelter. When they came back they had a little poodle mix puppy; we named him Ulysses. We also had two cats at the time. They all managed to adjust to each other, mostly through indifference, and Ulysses became a part of our family.

     When Ulyssess was 13 years old, although housebroken for many years, he started having urination accidents in the house. Where before he was able to go all night, he now could barely go four hours without going out to pee. We were at a loss to understand this change. My husband made the comment one day, "he sure has been drinking a lot of water lately." The light went on in my nurse brain, 'frequent urination', 'great thirst', Bingo! Diabetes. I took him into the vet and sure enough his blood sugar was sky high. Diabetes can be managed in dogs as in people, by checking sugar levels and giving insulin. 
     With Ulysses we had to check his sugar level in his urine twice daily and give him an insulin injection based on the results. Being a male dog made it a little easier to collect his urine. I had a pan I used when he lifted his leg. I would have to get the morning sample first thing when we got up. Most of the time he was pretty fast about going, but once in awhile he would take off running around the yard. On those occasions I'm glad we had a high fence around our yard. I'm sure the neighbors would have wondered about the crazy lady in her nightclothes, and a pan in her hand, chasing a dog around the yard. 

Ulysses wins a prize for best dressed

     Getting an injection twice a day wasn't Ulysses favorite thing, so he tried ways to get me to stop. When I would come toward him with the syringe he would turn over on his back. Since I gave the injection in his neck area I would have to turn him over. When he realized turning over wasn't going to stop me, he started yelping every time I gave him the injection. I felt badly but we were using regular insulin needles which are quite thin. One day when getting ready to give him his insulin I wiped the area with an alcohol swab and just before I gave the shot he yelped. I looked at him and said, "You big faker, I haven't even done anything yet." He eventually accepted the inevitable. He lived for another three years and did fine until the very end of his life at 16 years.

     If you decide to get an animal companion, then it is a commitment not to be taken lightly. For us they become part of our family for better or worse, in sickness and health. Some people seem to think if an animal becomes a nuisance then just get rid of them. When my husband was at work and talking about Ulysses and what we needed to do for him, one of his colleagues voiced this sentiment. He thought it sounded like a lot of trouble and why didn't we just put the dog down. I found this very upsetting when my husband told me what was said. It took us maybe 10-15 minutes twice a day, not much of a hardship as far as I was concerned. I asked Al what he said to the man. In his usual straight forward and blunt way, he told him he was a bigger pain in the ass then the dog, so maybe we should get rid of him.
     To love anyone, whether person or animal, opens you up to the possibility of being hurt. For the most part we are probably going to out live our animal companions. But that could be true of a person also.  So do we shut ourselves off from all love so we won't have to feel the pain of loss? Yes, it has hurt terribly every time I've had to say goodbye to one of our animals. Would I change having had them in my life. Never. The happiness I receive from my animal companions out weighs any heartache. I can never regret loving anyone in my life. Each one, person or animal, has added something special and enriched my life. It is very sad to loose someone you love, but it is tragic to have never loved.

A thought to ponder: "Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what                                       makes the ride worth while."          Franklin P. Jones


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