A Devastating Disease

October 29, 2008
By Sarah Imken, Midland, TX

I tried to be patient in the waiting room of the vet's office. The sound of barking dogs, meowing cats, and the soft murmurs of people filled the room. I could smell all the animals as if they were all right under my nose. I was sitting at the edge of my chair staring at the big door that my dog, Susie, had walked through only two days ago. She had been sick for a week, not eating; lifeless. When the lady opened the door to call a name I held my breath. Then, when I found out it wasn't us, the breath came out in a rush.
Finally, after what seemed to be hours, but in reality was really only about five minutes, we were called back. In one of the small rooms was Susie, my big white Labrador Retriever. She sat wagging her tail in excitement waiting for us to come over to greet her. "Susie! You're better!" I yelled as I ran over and carefully wrapped her in a hug; relief flooding my voice.
"Well for the most part..." The vet, Dr. Brown said looking at my mom.
I held my grip on Susie as if I were protecting her. For the most part? The words spun around my head. I glanced at my mom; she looked just as confused as I felt. We both were silent as we waited for an explanation.
"I'm afraid she has diabetes." He bit his lip and looked away from us.
My mouth fell open in shock. I could feel the hot tears welling up in my eyes and my face getting hot. I knew about diabetes, but I had never really paid much attention to it. I felt bad for the people when I saw them but never thought twice when they were gone.
"Dogs can get diabetes?" My mom asked the question about to escape my own trembling mouth.
"Unfortunately, yes they can. It isn't common. She could have gotten it by genetics," he explained. His forehead creased as he spoke as if he were in deep thought. "You have some options of what you can do."
Options? I began to feel dizzy. No! There was going to be something that would make it go away! There had to be! I screamed in my head.
"You can give her a shot twice a day; once in the morning and once in the evening. You will have to feed her after every shot. You can buy the insulin and the needles here. Or," he paused giving us time to let that soak in, "or we can put her down. It's your choice. I'll let you guys talk it over," he said and then left, shutting the door behind him.
As soon as the door shut I burst into tears, "Mom! We can't put her to sleep! We can't! We have to give her a chance! I won't go to camp if it means we can pay for the insulin! Please mom!" I could barely choke out the tears between sobs. I buried my face in Susie's warm fur.
"Sarah, calm down! As long as she is willing to live then we will keep her alive!" My mom replied close to tears herself.
When Dr. Brown walked back in we told him our decision. He started to go into long detail of what we had to do and when to bring her in for blood tests. I listened to him still holding tight to Susie with the tears spilling over onto my face.
I ended up being the one that was in charge of giving her those shots. I hated it! I hated hearing her cries as the needle entered her skin; I hated the look in her eyes: pain. Although I caused her pain every day, she still loved me. She still ran to greet me when I came outside to see her. Her tail still wagged with joy. Oh, and her eyes, the love in them still amazes me to this day. How can you love someone who hurts you? Maybe she knew I was helping her, I'll never know.
We could never get her blood sugar under control after that. She lived for a year, but let me tell you she was a fighter! It's weird to say, but my dog is one of my heroes. She was brave and loved everyone. When I look back on my memories of Susie, that's what I see, a brave dog that loved me no matter what I did to her.
I want to write a book about Susie's life. I want people to know what she had to go through and what millions of people and animals go through each day. Then, I would take that money and donate it to scientists trying to find a cure for diabetes-for dogs and people.

The author's comments:
I loved Susie very much. I hope that, when you read this, you will want to help.

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