Rescuing Bailey, Part II
Nothing that a lifestyle coach can’t fix
By Renee Whitmore
Jan. 1, 2017. 4 a.m. My alarm buzzed. My eyes shot open. I stumbled to the kitchen and hit the “brew” button on the Keurig. Dark roast steaming in my cup, I turned on the light in my son Kevin’s room. He was 8 and excited about our adventure.
Fifteen minutes later, we were on the road, southbound. Our purpose? Meet my Aunt Nancy halfway, in north Florida, to pick up the newest addition to our family.
Bailey-girl. A 2-year-old full-bred Rottie. She had heartworms, and Nancy swooped in to rescue her and nurse her back to health. Now, she would be mine. I had Facetimed Bailey already, and today was the day we would bring her home.
We met at a gas station. Bailey bounded out of Nancy’s vehicle, straight to me, and as I leaned down to welcome her, she knocked me backward on the grass. I sat down cross-legged, and this 70-pound dog climbed on my lap, claiming me forever.
I have written about Bailey-girl before. I wrote about the time she fell into a depression after we adopted a cat and, passive-aggressively, sneaked into the bathroom to steal the cat food. Then she’d put herself in timeout because she knew what she’d done was wrong. She’d walk into her dog crate and lay down, licking the flavor of cat food from her lips. I know I’m in trouble, but it’s worth it.
I wrote about the time she ran outside the front door, down the driveway, and attacked one of our neighbor’s free-range chickens. She pranced back to the door, feathers flying everywhere. Humiliated, I marched her over to the neighbors to confess and offered to replace the chicken. Unamused, they declined. Instead, they bought a pen for their chickens. It was the death of the free-range era, too.
I wrote about the times she acts as if something randomly takes over her body, and she starts racing around the living room, full speed, jumping on the couch, jumping down, racing through the kitchen, back into the living room, back on the couch. Then she curls up and takes a nap. All it takes is the UPS woman delivering a package, and she’s in hysteria mode again.
This past summer Bailey-girl started acting weird. She no longer barked at the UPS woman; she no longer cared about the cat food; she no longer ran around the living room hysterically. She no longer cared about, well, anything. She drank enormous amounts of water, waking us up through the night for more.
In July, I took her to the vet. Bailey-girl weighed in at 100 pounds. Yikes. She’d gained 30 pounds in three years. Not good. The vet tech took some blood, put it in a blood sugar checker, and her expression fell.
“It’s, um, a little high. The vet will talk to you about it.”
“You can’t tell me?”
“The vet will talk to you,” she said as she slipped out of the room.
Longest 10 minutes ever.
“Her blood sugar and the constant thirst indicate signs of diabetes,” the vet said, “but we will send off the blood sample for more testing.”
Tears started rolling down my face.
“It’s not a death sentence, but it takes work to maintain,” she said. The vet told me to change her diet to “high fiber, low fat.” Bailey-girl needed to eat twice a day, and she needed insulin shots after meals. She could stand to lose some weight, too. And if I think her sugar is low? Smear Karo syrup on her mouth.
We went straight to the pharmacy to pick up her insulin and then bought her new food for a complete diet makeover. I Googled everything about canine diabetes. I took notes, screenshots, and joined online canine diabetes support groups.
I had never given a shot in my life. I practiced on a banana. Then an orange. Then, I gave her the first shot. A success! She didn’t even seem to notice. I was scared to leave her side. It was a good thing we were already quarantined and working from home.
Gradually, she felt better. I learned not only to give her shots but to check her sugar levels. She adjusted to her new food and is on an exercise regimen. She joins me during my Zoom workouts, and we go for walks. She’s already lost 15 pounds.
Today, the UPS woman came to the door, and Bailey showcased her barking hysteria. She’s in serious trouble if she sneaks the cat food these days because the cat food is “off plan.” But she still tries, so at least she cares.
Six months after her diagnosis, she’s herself again. And she still thinks she’s a lap dog. Lucky for me, a few pounds lighter. PS
When Renee Whitmore isn’t teaching English or being a professional taxi driver for her two boys, she’s working on her first book.