At first, she seemed like just another Twitter dog; great looking, I’ll grant, and with an exotic home base in Australia, but not otherwise distinguishable from the pack of tweeting pooches. She was a dog without a blog, unaffiliated with either a pet business or rescue organization.
But a phrase in the short biography of Jasmine_woo_woo, an Alaskan malamute, caught my eye: “Diabetic since 2007 (and loving it!)”
What an odd and interesting thing to say, I thought. Frankie is diabetic and more or less tolerating it. What could Jasmine’s owner possibly mean?
Wanting an explanation that went beyond 140 characters, I sent a direct message with my email address. And thus began a beautiful intercontinental friendship.
Jasmine, it turned out, was loving her disease — or, rather, the attention that it brought her. Susanne, the self described “administer of the insulin,” wrote, “Jasmine has taken everything in her stride; she is very people oriented, which means she absolutely loves getting attention, even if it is from vets doing yet another blood glucose test.”
Jasmine may not have minded her disease in the least, but some humans seemed to be of the opinion that her quality of life and Susanne’s were somehow substandard (just as happened with Frankie; see May 28 post). People asked, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper/easier to just get another dog?”
Susanne and I also shared the experience of being humiliated by our dogs’ pee collection routine. In response to the July 3 post on this blog, she commented, “Can totally relate — the only time Jasmine will reliably pee is on her walk. She will happily lead me round the backyard for half an hour and not give anything up, but a walk halfway down the street yields pee everytime! Am sure the neighbours think I am obsessive compulsive collecting not only poo, but pee as well. I imagine them saying, ‘Such a lovely dog, not too sure about her pee toting owner though…'”
But we didn’t only share comforting and amusing anecdotes. One of the things besides curiosity that spurred me to contact Susanne was that I was writing a story on canine diabetes for Your Dog, the newsletter of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. To help me with my research, Susanne sent me a very useful link to a survey being done on owners of diabetic pets by the Royal Veterinary College, University of London — part of a study that is likely to provide invaluable information on the topic when completed.
I tracked down the head of the project, Stijn Niesse, DVM DipECVIM-CA MRCVS, European Veterinary Specialist Internal Medicine. While he did not want me to publicize the link to the survey — to prevent misuse and entering of false data– he suggested that diabetic pet owners could contact him directly at sniessen at rvc.ac.uk for more information.
Naturally, Jasmine and Susanne both ended up in the story, too. Jasmine and Frankie will give a face — well, two, and mighty attractive ones at that — to canine diabetes in the article, due out around October.
When I thanked Susanne for posting the bio that started the whole discussion, she wrote back, “You know when I set up Miss Jasmine’s Twitter account I only threw in that Jasmine was a diabetic at the last moment. I did not want people thinking she was sick, because at the moment with it being well managed she is not unwell at all. But then I thought maybe there are people out there with diabetic pets who may be struggling with it a bit, and may like some encouragement from someone else in the same situation. Or there may be people who have just had a pet diagnosed and need some reassurance. And so here we are!”
Indeed. Thanks again, Susanne. And live long and prosper, Jasmine Woo Woo, you gorgeous girl.