42: Dolly, the Wonder Dog

42: Dolly, the Wonder Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Dolly, the Wonder Dog

Fun fact: Dogs for Diabetics trains dogs to recognize chemical changes in humans’ blood sugar and alert them to the possible onset of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

On a quick jaunt to Yuma, Arizona, we ended up at a motel due to a strong storm. The young couple that found refuge in the room below ours had a young Shih Tzu, a toy Pomeranian, and six of the cutest puppies you ever saw. The young wife came out of her room holding a little ball of dark brown and black fluff with the biggest eyes you ever saw. As we looked into one another’s eyes, I knew I had to have her!

My husband reminded me sternly that we already had one dog, a spoiled Poodle named Ruby. But Ruby was definitely his dog… and there was something about this little girl that caused me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was meant to be mine. My husband argued against owning her all afternoon, and I gave in. Finally, he asked me if I really wanted that little pup, and I said, “Oh, honey, I already have her named!”

The dilemma was that she was not quite three weeks old, and we lived some 250 miles away. I finally convinced the couple, who were getting ready for the husband’s deployment to Afghanistan, that I could bottle-feed her and wean her onto solids myself.

We settled on a price and Dolly came home with us.

Feeding her, weaning her, and housebreaking her were the easy parts of our early life with her. Dolly loved me so much that she loved everything of mine — my shoes, my purses, and even my clothes! I used to shudder every time we walked into our home after being gone for more than a couple of hours. . . . I never knew what she would find and love (and chew) beyond repair!

Dolly is tiny, weighing only about six pounds, but she is a real powerhouse and knows how to get her own way. I know I should feed her only high-quality dog food, but when she looks up at me with her huge brown eyes, I can’t help but sneak her a tasty morsel or two.

She, like Ruby, has complete run of the house, including sleeping in our bed with us at night. Our bed is extraordinarily high, forcing me to use a little stool to climb onto it, but Dolly jumps and claws her way up until she is lying below my cheek with her head on my pillow.

My husband and grown children liked Dolly all right, but they believed she was “good for nothing but love” — a phrase I disagreed with every time I heard it. I would tell them that someday she would do something so amazing that “You’ll all be glad I brought this little girl home”! That fantastic act finally happened during the deep of night some weeks ago….

We live in the country on a mountainside in northern Arizona. As a result, we keep our “girlies” in the house, letting them out only on a leash, or into their fenced and covered dog run. Coyotes, hawks, eagles, javelinas, snakes, mountain lions… we’ve had them all near our home, and these two little dogs would be a good “snack” for any of them.

Our “doggie door” is in our bedroom on the first floor, and we keep it closed after dark. The girls let us know if we need to let them out in the middle of the night. On this night in particular, Dolly indicated (I thought) that she needed to go out. I got up and opened the doggie door, but she wouldn’t go out. So I went back to bed and fell asleep quickly.

I felt her running up and down my torso as I slept and chose to ignore her, thinking since she didn’t need to go out, she’d give up sooner or later and settle down to sleep.

Suddenly, she jumped right on my face with all fours! As I swung my arm to move her off my face, I noticed that the pillow next to me was sopping wet. Thinking she had urinated in our bed, something she had never done, I got up to check the damage.

It was then that I noticed my husband’s arm on that sopping wet pillow, cold, clammy, and drenched with sweat. I lifted his forearm, trying to wake him, but it dropped limply back onto the pillow as I let go.

In a panic, I jumped down off the bed and ran around to his side. I could smell his breath as I leaned over him. . . a sweet, almost sickening aroma. Having been a first-aid instructor for several years, my training kicked in immediately, and I recognized that my husband was in a diabetic coma. I tested his blood sugar, and it was dangerously low.

Having no juice in the house in which to add sugar nor any glucose tablets, I shoved candy into his mouth, stirring him into a somewhat conscious state, and then continued giving him sugar and monitoring his glucose level. It took nearly an hour for his level to come up to a number we could live with, and Dolly stayed right at his head as if she were also monitoring him.

When morning came and my husband was truly stable, we both realized that if Dolly hadn’t forced me to wake up, my husband might very well have died in those hours.

She is no longer a “good for nothing but love” dog in our eyes, our children’s eyes, or in the eyes of anyone else who has heard about the heroic way she saved the “dad” she loves so much!

~Bette Haywood Matero

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