Living with Diabetes

Diabetic dogs can lead full lives with consistent, quality care.

By | Posted:  August 15, 2006, 5 a.m. EST

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Julie Russell was on a daytrip visiting her daughter at college when she got the tearful phone call.

 "Buster was up to his old shenanigans," remembers Russell, who lives in Louisville, Ky. Calmly reassuring the 15-year-old dog sitter on the other end of the line, she hung up, kissed her daughter goodbye, and drove three hours home.

When Russell got there, her Chihuahua mix hid behind the couch as his teenage caretaker, a vet-school hopeful, explained how he had refused to let her give him his insulin shot. "He knew he was in trouble," Russell sighs.

As Russell's rapid campus departure illustrates, having a diabetic dog can be complicated, inconvenient, and life-altering for owners.

"It's a commitment and you've got to be willing to take it on," says Russell, who sold stock to pay for cataract surgery to reverse Buster's vision loss, a complication of the disease that surfaced soon after he was diagnosed in 2000. And now whenever she leaves him for the day, she boards the 13-year-old dog at a kennel whose owners administer his twice-daily shots and cook him chicken breasts seasoned with garlic, parsley, and tarragon so he never misses a meal.

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