Life with a Diabetic Dog

Last March, we noticed someone (probably a dog, maybe Chris) was peeing on the floor overnight.  We’d come downstairs in the morning to find a veritable lake Titicaca in the dining room.  Based on the size of the urine output, we assumed the culprit was Gunny and got a full round of bloodwork for him.  The vet asked if we wanted the same for Dyna (whose name is pronounced as if there is someone in the kitchen with her; we just spell it Dyna because she’s named after a type of Harley), and we said sure, but figured we were wasting our money because there was SO MUCH PEE that there was NO WAY Dyna could have done it.

Well, it turns out Dyna had untapped reserves of pee, as well as a raging case of diabetes.  Or, as we call it, Dyna-betes.


In a weird way, I feel like the Dyna-betes is my fault, because I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Max (and a sneaking suspicion I had it toward the end of being pregnant with Evie because my pee smelled like cake batter). I know you can’t sneeze on a dog and give it Dyna-betes, but diabetes runs in my family — a comment I made AS A JOKE to the vet, who then felt the need to clarify that my dog and I are not genetically related.

Anyway, Dyna was lucky that I had gestational diabetes, because it meant we already had a blood sugar testing kit, and we even had some leftover insulin rattling around in the vegetable drawer of the fridge, so Dyna’s first month of diabetes was essentially free. $core.

Diabetes in a dog is essentially the same as diabetes in a person: you monitor blood sugar and adjust insulin dose to keep it steady. When I had diabetes, I took my blood sugar five times a day, which meant stabbing myself five times a day and it sucked and I would not wish diabetes on anyone just because of that. Our vet simply had us track Dyna’s blood sugar at first while we got her insulin dose figured out, and now I spot check it from time to time.

The nice thing about diabetes (other than the cake batter-scented pee of uncontrolled diabetes), is that it is controllable, and there’s no reason Dyna can’t have a good long life with us. If you’re going to have a diabetic dog, the first thing you need to do is start eating a lot of peanut butter, because peanut butter jars make the best sharps containers, and you will need a sharps container to put your dog’s used syringes in because there’s nothing worse then pricking yourself with a needle a dog has used and turning into a werewolf — which is what will happen if you don’t use a sharps container. 

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Speaking of syringes and insulin, Wal-Mart has the best price on both of them (literally one-fourth of the price of other pharmacies around us).  Also, if you live in a state that’s in the grips of a heroin epidemic, expect that getting the syringes will be a giant pain in the ass involving questions and speaking to the pharmacist every damn time.

Dyna gets the insulin after she eats, at six in the morning and six at night.  If she gets insulin before she eats, her blood sugar will get dangerously low, so we always check that she’s eaten (she’s a lab, so she pretty much always has. I am pretty sure that the first day of vet school is a guy walking into a lecture hall and going, “If you have a labrador that won’t eat, order blood work.”). Then we mix the insulin by rolling it between our hands, load up the syringe, and inject Dyna in the scruff of her neck. She then gets the rest of her medications (fish oil, glucosamine and a thyroid pill) in a big heaping spoonful of peanut butter as a reward for being good for her shot.  Gee, I wonder why she got diabetes?


To take her blood sugar, I wait about two hours after her injection.  When she suspects nothing, I make my move.

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Oh, she totally suspects something, but she’s probably suspecting cheese.

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I can’t take pictures of this process , so you’ll just have to take my word for it, but I put her in a headlock, lift her lip and prick her gums with the diabetes stabby tool (it’s in the top of the photo below, and diabetes stabby tool is its technical name). 


I then scoop the blood up with a test strip, and the meter reads it. It’s a little high in this picture (we shoot for a reading between 100 and 200), so I took more readings that day and  reported them to our vet, who upped her insulin dosage.

IMG_6077I used to get the blood for the readings by stabbing Dyna in some vein in her ear which was terrible for both of us, because Dyna would be all, “WAT DOING TO MY EAR?” and I would be all “I’M SO SORRY!” and Dyna would be all, “IF YOU SORRY WHY YOU DO IT?!” Then came Halloween.

On Halloween, we came back from trick or treating, put the kids to bed and gave Dyna her insulin. A few minutes later, we heard her collapse in the dining room, and then she came wobbling into the living room like she was just coming home from the world’s best canine kegger. When I had diabetes, I was told to keep an emergency Coke in the house in case of low blood sugar or a bad insulin reaction (orange juice would have worked too, but I’d rather go into an insulin coma than drink orange juice). With Dyna, we started pouring corn syrup down her throat, then Chris held her while I stabbed her ear 30,000 times trying to get enough blood to get a blood sugar reading. When I finally got a reading, it was 89, and our vet had told us anything under 100 was bad news (the numbers are different for people and other dogs, so please don’t use this post as a diagnostic tool).

By this point, Dyna was quiet but breathing really heavily, so I got her in the car and started for the emergency vet. I was driving pretty fast, and when I realized I couldn’t hear her breathing any more, I started driving extremely fast and ended up running a few red lights, skidding into the parking lot of the emergency vet, sprinting to the back of the car and yanking the door open, only to have Dyna spring out of the car, fresh as a daisy and fully cured by traveling at extra-legal speeds and flouting several traffic laws. It’s shocking that the American Veterinary Association does not recommend this course of treatment for all diabetic dogs.

I still took Dyna into the vet, where they confirmed the low blood sugar and kept her overnight for observation. They also taught me the best way to take a blood glucose reading on a dog. Rather than going all Sweeny Todd on the poor dog’s ear, you just load up the diabetes stabby cannon and get the dog in the gums. THE GUMS. I know getting stabbed in the gums sounds way worse than getting stabbed in the ear, but trust me, it is 1,000 times better when you’re trying to get blood from a dog, and you know you’re going to be trying to get blood from the dog for the next few years, because damn it, you love that little psycho.



Pre-School Wonder Woman Costume

Growing up, I wasn’t a big Wonder Woman fan. My older sister, however, was. She had a way of convincing me that watching Wonder Woman instead of The Dukes of Hazzard was a good idea (her favorite way to convince me was punching me repeatedly), so I watched a lot of Lynda Carter growing up.

There’s a channel up here that shows the old Wonder Woman, and this past spring I sat down with Chris to see how well the show has aged.  After about seven minutes of viewing, it was clear that Lynda Carter has aged much better than the show that launched her career.

Watching Wonder Woman as an adult, and watching it with Chris, who has a Y chromosome, made me realize that back when the show was made, little girls may not have been the target audience.  In the episode we watched, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl (who was making a special appearance) needed to go from point A to point B.
The thing is, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl decided the fastest way to get where they needed to go was to run, which lead to a very long series of shots of Lynda Carter and Whoever Played Wonder Girl I’m Too Lazy to IMDB It, running down the middle of a road.

Jamie: Why are they running?

Chris: . . . .

Jamie: She could just turn back into Diana Prince and take a cab.

Chris: . . . .

Jamie: They aren’t even running that fast!  They could have sped up the footage to make it look like they have super speed.

Chris: It wouldn’t be as good if they took a car.

Jamie: It would make a lot more sense!

Chris: Their boobs wouldn’t bounce as much in a car.

Jamie: OK, now it all makes sense.

With feminist icons like this, you can see why Daisy Duke was my childhood heroine of choice. However, after last year’s winter of Disney Princesses left me feeling like this:


I was ready when my sister sent Evie a Wonder Woman book, costume and toy invisible jet. She says she also sent her a real invisible jet but I’ll be darned if I can find it. The Wonder Woman book is brilliant, because it opens with this line:


Yeah, if you want to sell pre-school girls on something, lead with the whole princess thing.

In August, Evie announced that she wanted to be Wonder Woman for Halloween, which is a good thing because I am pretty sure Elsa would have been her other choice and in the spirit of authenticity, I can’t let my child dress up as Elsa and wear a coat, despite the fact that it’s not unheard of for us to have three feet of snow on halloween. (“What do you mean, child neglect? She’s in character!”). I am such a slave to authenticity on kids’ costumes that I briefly considered asking a friend of mine who is a hair dresser if she would dye Evie’s hair black. Because CPS accepts cosplay as an excuse for child abuse.

At this point you are probably noting that Wonder Woman traditionally wears what amounts to a bathing suit, which isn’t exactly appropriate for New Hampshire in late October. If you look at little kids Wonder Woman costumes, they’re also not very warm. They’re also not very accurate, and I don’t know why they all need to have skirts. AND WHY IS THAT ONE PINK?!


If Wonder Woman is going to wear a skirt, it shouldn’t be a tutu — it should be something like this.  A battle skirt. 

Of course, a battle skirt is also not very warm.  However, it turns out that a few years ago, DC Comics put Wonder Woman in pants, which set off some controversy. Google “Wonder Woman Pants” if you want to see some online hyperventilating about pants.  You can also do an image search for Wonder Woman pants, and you’ll find this image, which is what we based Evie’s costume on.

1943766-wonder_woman_vol_1_601_variant_virginOf the three costumes we’ve made for Evie, this was the second-easiest (the Toddler Gun F14 was the hardest, and last year’s viking costume was pretty much slapping a viking helmet on her head and sending her out to beg for candy).

All this costume took was a cheap pair of jeggings form Target, a coat Evie already had, a batman belt, some boots, duct tape and accessories.  To make the jeggings more Wonder Woman-esque, I got some iron-on star patches and stuck them up the seams on the side. If someone made affordable leather pants for three-year old girls, I would have gone with those (if I were an adult wanting a Wonder Woman costume that didn’t necessitate shaving my legs I’d get leather pants too), but cheap jeggings with stars on the seam work fine.


The inspiration pictures have Wonder Woman in a bustier, which is fine, but also not very warm or appropriate for a three-year old. So we got Evie a Wonder Woman t-shirt and had a lot of conversations about how Wonder Woman LOVES to wear pants, a coat and a t-shirt when she’s in New Hampshire. Odds are, though, that no one will see the t-shirt, so the coat is key. Again, I think a leather jacket would be SO COOL for this, but I am not made of money, so last year’s navy blue coat works fine. It also works because it’s quilted, which made it really easy to lay out the Wonder Woman eagle on the back.


And the logo on the front.  Both were made with gold duct tape. Pro-tip — if you’ve got a cutting mat and roller, it will make things easier.


You can buy a Wonder Woman belt, but we converted a batman utility belt because we’ll probably have someone want to be Batman or Batgirl at some point in the future.  This thing isn’t exactly and investment piece, but you gotta hand down what you can. Two yards of gold cord from the fabric store, and Wonder Woman has her lasso of truth and a very stern lecture about how you should never lasso your little brother and drag him around the kitchen by his neck no matter how annoying he is being.


The Wonder Woman costume Evie got for her birthday has covers that you’re supposed to wear on your shoes so they look like Wonder Woman’s boots, but they’re too long  (they go up to Evie’s thighs) and don’t stay up. We considered getting her some red rain boots, so we would get more use out of them, but Wonder Woman in wellies doesn’t exactly strike fear into the heart of evil doers. If we were made of money I would have bought these fry Boots.  Did you know they made Fry Boots for kids? Well, now you know what you can spend your money on when you win the lottery.

We ended up getting these red boots, which look great with the Wonder Woman costume, and will also work if you want to dress your pre-schooler up as the chick from Footloose. Plus, they were $22.


Evie has a Wonder Woman crown already, but because it can get cold here on Halloween (see “three feet of snow,” above), I got a yellow ear warmer and ironed a star patch on to it.


Put it all together and . . . you have a very small Warrior Princess/Goddess (at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me).

IMG_5973 IMG_5969IMG_5972IMG_5983Now, you may be wondering, isn’t there more than one kid in this house? What about a costume for the other one? Well, Max is going as Batman, because Batman is awesome.  Max is the second kid, so to make his costume I went to Target, pulled a Batman costume off the rack, and paid for it. I was wiped the rest of the day.

We saved so much money by not buying Evie leather pants that Dyna got to get in on the costume action with a Superman outfit. If we could find an Aquaman, we’d be good to go to film our own version of Batman vs Superman (spoiler alert: Max is a more believable Batman than Ben Affleck).

Death Stalks Us All, But Hey! PIE!

It seems the cold hand of death still hovers over the Shaker House™ (no, it’s not really trademarked I just learned how to make the symbol this week and wanted to use it). Right when I stopped contemplating why we had to lose a loving dog who was full of joy and flatulence, while the chickens, who have nothing to offer but rage and empty ovaries (they’ve all gone through menopause, so they’re basically freeloading, eggless, tiny feathered dinosaurs) all mange to solider on, death stepped in.

I can't tell the chickens apart so I have no idea if this is the one that died.

I can’t tell the chickens apart so I have no idea if this is the one that died.

We lost a chicken this week. That’s right, after I spent three weeks musing about the death of someone, they died. Yes, I’m in awe of my power as well. Don’t piss me off.

We’re not really sure what happened to the chicken — she didn’t come in one night and we found her dead the next day.  I’m guessing a local cat got her, but we’re not on an episode of CSI: Chickens, so we’ll probably never know.

With the exception of this chicken, pretty much everyone who I have known who has died in the last ten years has died in September. I am not a fan of September. October, however, is a month I can get behind. BEHOLD!


These photos are from walks with Dyna this week.  I don’t usually take my phone on walks because I take walks to get away from things like texts and email notifications, but when I realized that by taking my phone on a few walks I could get easy blog content AND make people jealous of where I live, taking the phone was no longer a big deal. Laziness and the pain of others motivates me.


Now, I could get all self-deprecating here and write about how loving fall makes me basic, but the only thing more basic than loving fall is making jokes about how basic you are for loving fall. I will say that I am not a big fan of pumpkin spice products, (pumpkin spice lattes! pumpkin spice protein bars! pumpkin spice air freshener! pumpkin spice anal lube!) but I don’t judge anyone who is. I do like pumpkin pie, but I also think Garrison Keillor cuts right to the core of pumpkin pie: ““Pumpkin pie is the essence of mediocrity. The very best pumpkin pie you ever tasted is practically indistinguishable from the very worst pumpkin pie you ever tasted.” Pumpkin pie is the most American of desserts. USA! USA!


I wasn’t a big fall fan before moving to New Hampshire.  The foliage in Virginia is nice and all, but not worth driving to see.  In Texas, the leaves just turn this sort of booger-yellow color. In a New Hampshire autumn, however, you can understand why people plan vacations to see a bunch of leaves.


The best part about autumn here is that every day the leaves seem to get better.  When I head out for a walk I’ll think to myself, “Today! Today is peak color!” and then the next day, “No, wait — today is better than yesterday!  Today is peak color!” and then the next day, “TODAY! TODAY IS THE BEST DAY,” and then the next day I’ll go out and think, “Yesterday was definitely peak.  WHY, GOD? WHY!?” because once peak color has passed we’re looking at 5 months of cold darkness here, so excuse me while I wrap myself in several quilts and weep. (If you think I’m being a wuss, just know that snow is predicted for this weekend. IN OCTOBER.)


People who are actually from New Hampshire are more stoic about it the shift from fall to winter. If one year spring never came, I’m pretty sure that true Granite Staters would just shrug, put on some more flannel, eat a few more cider doughnuts and carry on thinking about Tom Brady naked.


I am not from here, however, so I enjoy the fall while I can, endure the winter, and thank the cat who took that chicken.  One down, five more to go.