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Better him than me, but still...

© 2010 Fay Jacobs

Diabetes is epidemic and not just in humans. A few months ago, my 11-year old Schnauzer, Paddy, was diagnosed as seriously diabetic. Naturally my spouse and I were upset, but ultimately reassured that with proper diet and medication Paddy could continue to live a normal, active doghood. As for me, I considered this just one more case of that which does not kill us makes us giggle.

We're standing at the pharmacy counter, having handed the vet's prescription to the clerk, when she absently asked the routine questions.


"Um, March 17, 1999."

"Phone number?"

"He doesn't have a phone."

"Well, are you his guardian?"

"I guess so."

"So I can reach the patient on your phone?"

"Well you can, but he won't have much to say." What part of the words Animal Hospital on the prescription was she having trouble understanding? "Oh," she said, distractedly, "what kind of syringes will he be using?"

"I don't think he will be using any kind. He doesn't have opposable thumbs."

Please let the clerk be paying more attention to the Insulin dose than the species of the patient it was written for.

"He's a Schnauzer. Hello???" We all laughed.

Back home, my kitchen counter looks like the ICU, with medicine vials, syringes and a great big container labeled "Hazardous Medical Waste" for discarded needles. I haven't seen this much drug paraphernalia since Cheech & Chong. And of course we have new low fat, low carb food, available only by prescription from the veterinarian as well. I should probably try it myself.

Naturally, one of the two of us in the house with opposable thumbs needed to learn how to administer the injections. Want to guess who that would be? I got queasy watching Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman so I deferred to Nurse Ratched.

My spouse was a natural at it and the patient perked right up after just a few days of treatment. Paddy's brother Moxie has no idea that when his delicious fatty dog food is used up, he too will be dining fat free - and I feel no compunction to tell him that his Burger King flavored kibble will now become rice cakes. I have to say, it's probably easier for Paddy to keep his sugar under control than his human counterparts. I mean he's not given to sneaking a Snickers bar or having too many martinis like some members of his family.

But Paddy's diagnosis did present a new problem. The dogs had never been kenneled, always enjoying slumber parties with their friends when we went away. Now, all of a sudden, twice daily injections are involved and we have entered the world of pet hotels affiliated with veterinary facilities.

Hold onto your ATM card, Batman, no saving money here with the Travelocity gnome. These places rival the Ritz-Carlton Dubai. And funny, even when I go to a Motel 6 I don't have to show proof of a distemper shot, though I've had plenty of distemper there.

Frankly, my guys have now been treated to five star accommodations. They got a choice of a Standard or Deluxe room, or the Deluxe Suite, which has more square footage than my guest room. And it's not even double occupancy. Moxie pays full price and his brother pays half. In total, it's more per night than a Red Roof Inn. Of course, I made sure to request non-smoking. And when they told me beds were provided but I could bring their personal bedding from home, I noted it would be tough to schlep our queen-size mattress along. They had to make do with the sleep number bed and Egyptian Cotton sheets they were given.

I forgot to ask if they got a flat-screen TV, data ports or access to a business center. There is free parking.

Let me tell you, the hotel rules are pretty stiff. No late check-outs and no Sunday check-outs. I've gotten discounts for staying over a Saturday night, but never been held hostage on Sunday. Oh, and all guests are asked to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. In fact, they are quite specific. "Any guests regarded as aggressive and a potential danger to staff and other guests may not be permitted to remain in the hotel." Too many woofs and it's express checkout. Okay, I really get this. The last time I was at the airport Ramada that rule would have evicted the guy who was cracking his girlfriend's noggin against the wall all night.

"All guests will be checked for fleas and ticks at check-in." Again, smart. Many a time I wished that had been done to previous guests before we checked into a flea bag hotel.

"Our guests are provided meals twice daily and always have fresh water available." Do they fill out the little breakfast questionnaire and hang it on the door the night before? Do they tip for room service? And if they drink the bottled water left in their room will there be a charge for it on their bill? Boy, is that one of my hotel pet peeves.

As for my pet's peeves, they didn't have any. They had Special Attention Service for extra socialization, playtime, baths and a nail trim. It sounded so great I almost checked in myself. Gee, maybe they have a rewards program. It turned out to be a world class vacation for the pups.

But just as Paddy started to feel great again, something else happened. The little guy had a bladder stone the size of a peach pit. We saw it on the state-of-the-art x-ray. Owwww. So my dog and my wallet underwent surgery last week. For the record, the dog is fine.

Except he was humiliated by having to wear one of those plastic cones on his head lest he try to gnaw his stitches out. I know it's not polite to laugh, but we all did when Paddy misjudged the amount of room he needed to go through the pet door. Thwaack. Okay, not funny. My baby had a rough time. But he's taking it in stride. The stitches are out, the cone hat is relegated to the closet, and life is good again.

In fact, he is poised to get his 15 minutes of fame when my new book comes out - once again, he's a cover boy. And between his healthy diet and medication, it's been, ummm… a real shot in the arm for him. And for that we're so very, very glad.
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Fay Jacobs is the publisher of A&M Books, a successor to the legendary Naiad Press and author of As I Lay Frying - a Rehoboth Beach Memoir (now in its third printing), Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach and the newest book, For Frying Out Loud - Rehoboth Beach Diaries out in 2010.

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