January 14, 2020

Surprisingly, that is Waldos leash, not a pee trail.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.



Waldo lets me know when he has to go outside. Sometimes I think this necessity is born of boredom and he just wants to go out and run around. We do live on the third floor and the only way he can relieve himself is for me to take him down the stairs and out the door, so I don’t often test this. Rarely, when he drinks a lot of water on an empty stomach, he does have accidents in the apartment before we get outside. A couple of days ago, he peed twice in the few minutes it took me to get dressed in my cold weather attire. Then, shortly after we got outside, he peed for a good twenty seconds. This got my attention.

I remember him seeming to need to relieve himself more frequently and in larger volume over the few days before that happened. The change happened slowly, so it didn’t grab me. I thought back and remembered that he wasn’t drinking more water from his bowl than normal, but that doesn’t mean much when there’s snow on the ground because he eats so much of it. It was the sheer volume he excreted that got to me – it was quite remarkable. My immediate reaction was, oh my God, he has diabetes.

In the past, I had a dog with diabetes. Until we got his blood sugar under control, he would pee buckets. Even after we started the medication for him, the disease was a real problem to control. There are no oral hypoglycemics for dogs like what can be used for some people. All there is insulin that must be injected at least once a day. That’s not the problem. The problem is that you have to monitor the blood sugar level and its not easy to get blood from a dog for testing it. In people, you can prick a finger to get a blood sample. Dogs have thick cornified pads on their feet that are not so amenable to giving blood. There is a marginal vein going around the edge of the ear that is supposed to be usable, but I could never get blood from one. Dogs have large veins and you could do a venipuncture for blood, but you wouldn’t want to poke a hole in a vein once or more times a day. Think of the tracks that IV drug abusers leave in their skin from doing just that. I had a hell of a time controlling the dog’s diabetes. I really didn’t want to put myself, or Waldo, through that.

But, “Man proposes, God disposes (Thomas a Kempis),” so there was nothing for it but to go to the vet and get Waldo tested. I was convinced he had diabetes and I was just going to have to deal with it. Waldo is my companion, my friend, my charge, my responsibility. He depends on me for everything and I certainly was not going to part with him just because he was sick. So, I called the vet and made an appointment.

They asked that I bring them a urine sample, so I took a small container I had and collected some just before we got there. This was not a problem, he was still peeing up a storm. I handed it to the staff and they went into the back and tested it. Soon after, they came back and told me that he had no urinary tract infection and, more importantly, his urine dipped negative for glucose. That meant that he did not have diabetes and it was not the cause of all his peeing. I was so relieved, I wanted to dance, and I never dance. We discussed the other causes of so-called polyuria and decided that the thing to do was just to wait and watch. I had them give him a yearly checkup exam as he would be due in a month any way. This included blood tests for lyme disease, heartworm and anaplasma (like lyme, a tick born disease – I do give Waldo flea and tick medication, but these don’t prevent ticks from biting — they just kill the ticks once they do) among other things. I left the vet, walking on air.

Later that day, they called me and told me that he tested negative for everything except anaplasma. The symptoms of the infection are fever, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and rarely, seizures. Waldo had none of these (especially not the lethargy!). I looked it up online (anaplasma can infect humans, but I’ve never seen it and know of no one who has tested a human for it, although I’m sure that Infectious Disease specialists do on occasion) and it rarely can cause polyuria in dogs. Since then, Waldo’s urination has returned to normal and he has no long-term consequences of having the disease. The infection is self-limited and doesn’t need treatment if he has no symptoms. Another crisis dodged. Damn ticks, I wish there was some way to avoid them altogether.

I would do almost anything for Waldo, but there is a whole lot that I am really grateful I don’t have to do.

And that is a stick, not some other kind of trail. Such hubris!

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