Tails from the Park: Bossy dog keeps pups in line despite medical condition
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — One never knows for sure what’s going to happen at Steamboat Springs’ popular dog park at Rita Valentine Park. Dogs are like humans in that way. Your sweet golden retriever may take an instant dislike to your acquaintance’s mixed shepherd and then it’s on. Owners are apologizing, the curmudgeon shepherd mix is walking away all cocky after taking down the retriever and a few judgmental dog owners snicker at your incompetence.
Having a boisterous puppy is extra nerve-wracking, but I’ve gotten to the point of letting the older dogs handle his manners.
There was a cute, gray, wiry haired dog I had seen at the park, and she let my puppy know not to fool around too much. She looks like an elongated porcupine, but owner Mark Cejer assures me she’s some little unknown Corgi mix he adopted from a dog rescue in Denver nine years ago.
But what caught my eye was a small disc attached to her back. Upon further questioning, I learned it was a diabetic device to read Tuesday’s blood sugar level.
According to Cejer, Tuesday’s descent into diabetes seemed to come out of nowhere.
“It happened over a course of a couple of days where she seemed really lethargic, and we thought she might be sick,” Cejer said.
After a few days of not eating and barely drinking, Cejer and his wife, Lindsey Barr Cejer, a dog groomer, took Tuesday to the vet. Dr. Karen Nann with Steamboat’s Pet Kare Clinic ran a few blood tests, one specifically for diabetes.
“Diabetes in dogs isn’t very common,” Nann said. “We maybe have a dozen dogs we’re treating right now.”
Like humans, a dog’s pancreas might stop producing enough insulin to keep the body’s organs operating properly. Nann said symptoms could include drinking too much and peeing too much.
Mark Cejer said his dog looked like he was drunk.
“They don’t walk in a straight line. Picture a dog being drunk,” Cejer said. “That’s kind of how it was. We didn’t know what to think.”
The Cejers became proactive. They realized a freestyle libre monitor, stuck to Tuesday’s back for a couple of weeks, was the easiest way to monitor her blood sugar. A tiny needle on the bottom goes into the skin, then the owner glues it down on the dog’s shaved back. It monitors blood sugar levels.
“Otherwise you have to do daily pin pricks and that was hard on Tuesday,” Cejer said. “She didn’t like getting stabbed by a needle.”
Nann described the freestyle libre as looking like a tiny smoke alarm. After the diagnosis, the Cejers kept the monitor on Tuesday’s back for two weeks and would read the blood sugar levels with a hand held scanner. Based on the readings, the Cejers could determine how much insulin to give Tuesday.
Sometimes Cejer will put the little monitor back on to make sure her insulin dosage is correct, but he stresses that having a diabetic dog is little trouble.
“Don’t give up on them,” Cejer said. “It’s not really expensive, about $25 a month, and not that big of an issue. If you feed them twice a day any how, it just takes a minute of your day to give them an insulin shot.”
Fortunately for the Cejers, their dog sitter just happens to have a diabetic dog also, so there’s not much to explain when they can’t take their dogs on vacation.
In the meantime, you can find the Cejers and their dogs Tuesday and Louie walking around the dog park a few times a week. The Cejers rescued Louie, a black and white Havanese mix, from Winter Park about five years ago.
“They love the dog park,” Cejer said. “Tuesday likes to get everyone in order and Louie likes the smells. He likes to root around with his nose.”
And dad gets a little excited, too.
“When we get close to the park, my dogs start barking, which turns into howls, so I usually join in,” Cejer said.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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The pandemic is wearing on a lot of people, especially frontline health care workers like Whittany Keating, a registered nurse at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.