The First Love of my Life is Furry and Has Four Legs

I always wanted a dog. A lover of animals since I was a very young age, I consistently begged my parents for a puppy of my own. Every year, I’d pen a letter to Santa, and all I’d ask is that he deliver a doggie on Christmas Day for me to love furver.

I never got my Christmas wish as a child. My parents both worked full-time and our afternoons were filled with soccer practices, irish step dancing lessons, and everything in between. It also didn’t help that my mom could give Mr. Clean a run for his money with her desire for immaculate living conditions, and a four-legged family addition would certainly disrupt the homeostasis of her household.

In the summer of 2011, I found out that my aunt would be selling her house and sadly, would need to find a new home for the dog her and her ex-husband had shared for the past seven years. I had not spent much time at my aunt’s house due to her living in another state and had only met her pup, Nanook, briefly on a few occasions.

nook pretty

My aunt asked my dad, her older brother, for help. She needed a good home for her baby and was having a difficult to time coming to grips with letting her go – especially if it meant uncertainty in her future. I was told not many shelters in my aunt’s state would be willing to keep her too long due to her age.

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I made a rather strange “deal” for someone just shy of their 21st birthday. It was decided that if I were to keep my room clean for a whole month, I  could have my aunt’s dog come and live with us. Over the moon and out of my mind in love with the thought of FINALLY getting a dog, I did what I could to make it happen.

On the last day of July, my dad, younger brother, and myself drove down to help my aunt move into her new apartment. My job for the day was to keep Nanook occupied and to try to bond with her a bit while I had some time. My heart was so full knowing that at the end of the day, she would be leaving with me and we would start a new chapter, together, as a pair. Little did I know, I was in for the love of a lifetime.

nookie girl

No one could have known just how important Nook would become, not just to me, but my entire family. She eases tension when things get crazy, she’s always there to greet you at the door, and she’s as sweet as sweet can be, making us laugh and smile day in and day out. She is smart as a whip, knowing the name of every toy and even how to wave “hello”, and loves with strong emotions most humans don’t even possess. Nook even gives those she loves “hugs” that you know, deep down would include a warm embrace, if only she didn’t have such short, little arms. Nookie is a joy and the light within our lives.

I can’t help but think of how my sweet, little girl came into my life at just the right time.  A few short months after Nook became mine, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease – a result of a tick from a hike in the woods. That diagnosis collided with my decision to finally try to manage my diabetes more properly (this was after my first hospital DKA admission). Following my first diabetes-related ICU stay, I (too) quickly pulled in the reigns of how well my sugars were managed and, like many others may relate to, dropped my level far too fast and began experiencing miserable symptoms as a result. I often compare it to a scuba diver coming up for air without giving the proper timing for adjusting to the pressure conditions surrounding them. My legs hurt, both from the Lyme and from the quick drop in my A1c level. The pain became so excruciating that I could hardly walk, spending most days in bed. I grew to become consistently nauseaous, unable to hold any food, and sometimes even water, down. Losing a ridiculous amount of weight in a short time span, I found myself frail, weak, and about 100 lbs. soaking wet. Something was wrong.

nook on my shirt
Crazy Dog Lady Status: My parents made me a sweatshirt with Nook’s photograph on it.

My only saving grace was the loving and loyal canine who never left my side. For months, I fought not only my multiple illnesses, but also with doctors, pleading with them to provide me with a solution for all my issues and pain. It took so long to find the truth that I was searching for, and it was during that time that I finally received my gastroparesis diagnosis. As I began physical therapy to essentially “re-learn” how to walk and to build my muscle mass, one of my main motivators was my pup who I knew wanted me to feel better just as badly as I wanted to get better myself. Nook became one of my inspirations for strength and motivations to get out of bed each day.

nook high five

She continues to provide me with the comfort and support I need in my life. When I first got an insulin pump, the Omnipod, and was nervous about having the cannula be inserted into me, I would look Nook dead in the eyes and know that she was cheering me own. To this day, whenever I don’t want to press the release on the contraption for a new site, or when I don’t want to feel the painful intrusion of a DexCom sensor initially becoming one with my flesh, I really do stare right at her, silently hoping the bit of comfort knowing she loves me, provides me with the relief I need to accomplish the tasks I must complete to keep myself healthy. Nook is my biggest supporter and #1 fan, besides Hawkeye of course.

nook13

 

This week, we celebrated our furry, brown nugget turning thirteen years old. I can’t believe we have a teenger! The adventures I’ve had with this little love, add up to be part of what comprises the five greatest years I have ever lived. Nook is by my side each morning when I wake, and is there to snuggle me to sleep each night as well. She’s accepted Hawkeye, her brother-in-paw, into our pack, and when it’s just the three of us, I feel more at ease and more at peace than in the company of most people. It’s incredible the love that you can share and the lessons you can learn from woman’s best friend, and I thank the universe each and every time it comes to mind, for letting me be lucky enough to call this Border Collie/Australian Shepherd with one brown, and one freckle paw, mine. I love you Nookie baby.

 

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