My Diabetes and My Dog: Do they Mix?

Clarence the puppy came home last week! I’m loving getting to know him. It’s beyond adorable to watch him explore his new environment, but it’s also a lot of work.

I knew that he might affect my diabetes, but I figured it would mainly be in positive ways: He’d help keep me active and console me when I was feeling down about it. But there’s also a couple of drawbacks. I confess that instead of my blood sugars being my number one priority, it’s Clarence that takes precedence.

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This little dude is my whole world right now.

It’s not like I’m completely forgetting to take care of my diabetes, or that it’s far from my thoughts. It’s more that I let things go a little longer, that I push the limits a smidgen. For instance, my first full day with him, I woke up and tested my blood sugar but did not test again until the evening. I was trusting my Dexcom readings as I got better acquainted with the puppy. And I tended to graze on food all day long instead of sitting down for real meals. In fact, dinner that first night was almost comical. My T1D mom and I ate a lukewarm meal over the course of about 40 minutes while we took turns taking Clarence outside. We were so concerned with getting him to do his business that we didn’t really care about feeding ourselves in a timely manner.

I know that it’s just a transitional phase, though. Clarence will get adjusted to his new home in due time and we’ll get used to a new routine tailored to suit both our needs and his needs.

And in case you’re wondering, I think Clarence is forming a general awareness of my diabetes. When we were playing on the floor, he walked around me and sniffed at the pod I was wearing on my lower back. He’s a bit mouthy (part of being a puppy), so I was worried he might try to nip at it. Instead, he backed away and picked up one of his toys.

Attaboy, Clarence – he’s a smart cookie.

Attaboy, Clarence

The last lines of the 1946 classic film It’s a Wonderful Life are as follows:

Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

George Bailey: That’s right, that’s right.

George Bailey: [Looks heavenward] Attaboy, Clarence.

Those who know my family well are aware that this movie, and three of those above names, hold special meaning to us. Bailey was the name of our first dog. Zuzu was our second dog. Both were Shetland Sheepdogs and beloved members of our family. They shaped two very different parts of my life. I attribute the two of them for getting me through various challenges encountered by my family and me over the years, and I’m grateful that we got to provide a loving home to them. A home that’s been quiet since they left us.

A home that once again will be occupied by a puppy’s presence.

Everyone, meet Clarence:

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We are overjoyed that our sweet boy will be coming home soon! And in case you’re wondering what this possibly has to do with my diabetes, I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t really, I’m just bursting with excitement over Clarence’s arrival.

But I’m also pretty darn skilled at making diabetes connections where they don’t seem to exist.

I’m positive that Clarence will help with my diabetes. I plan on taking the little guy on plenty of walks, which will be great for my numbers. I’d also like to set up an agility course in our backyard for him, because based on my past experience with shelties, they have incredible amounts of energy to burn – so I’m certain that means I’ll be running the course and burning energy with him.

Plus, I’m starting to research diabetes alert dogs. I have no idea if I’ll train him to detect high or low blood sugars, but I’m very interested in the idea. Especially since there are multiple diabetics in my family.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonders he’ll work for my mental health. The calming presence of a pup will surely ease my anxieties as well as make me smile even more than I already do.

Attaboy, Clarence – I know that’s something I’ll be saying quite often and very soon.