Killian's Story

by Johanna

Our life with Canine Diabetes


Killian was diagnosed with diabetes November 10th 2006.

I saw him walking slightly unbalanced. He didn't want to eat and he was lethargic. I made a Vet appointment fearing he was poisoned. Before leaving for the Vet’s he started vomiting.

My Vet examined him then also took urine and blood. He told me that I had to take Killian to the emergency hospital. He said he had diabetes and now he is in Ketoacidosis.

At that time I couldn't understand anything he said. What is Ketoacidosis? I didn't even know dogs could become diabetic!

I asked if he would be OK. My Vet’s worried face did not make me feel very confident so, after 5 days at the emergency hospital, he came home against a few Dr's odds!

I was handed a bottle of insulin and a few needles. I was shown to make the "tent" on his skin and to insert the needle in that tent.

Killian’s Mom

I think it’s important to point out here that I hate needles! I can’t even look if someone is getting a needle.

I left the emergency hospital in tears because the only thing I really knew was I was going to kill my dog. If his life depended on me to give him needles daily there was no way I could possibly do this.

Still I was so happy to have my man back home with me. I called on a neighbor who was a nurse and for the first two weeks she gave him his shots.

Killian was on human insulin at the EH. But once home my Vet put him on Vetsulin. I was thrilled because it was going to be a 1 shot a day needle instead of 2.

I tried to do the shot myself but I chickened out each time.

Then one day my neighbour, who worked a double at the hospital, was nowhere to be found to do the shot. It was an hour past his normal shot time and he wasn't looking too great: he looked sluggish.

I knew I had no choice but to do this myself if it killed us both!

I went to do the tent (hands trembling) and Killian growled at me. (Something he never did ever!) I jumped away and put the needle down for another hour. Maybe my neighbor will come home, I prayed.

Now well more than two hours past his shot time and I had no choice but to do this! How long can I go on depending on a neighbor? After very long it would get old for her too. The choice was I learn to do it or I lose my dog. There was no choice! He was my world, my heart; I owed him for all the wonderful years of loyalty and love he gave me, so now I had to do what he needed now, for him.

The thought of losing him gave me the strength I needed to do this. Killian on the other hand was not going to corporate with me on this one.

As I made up the new needle - now almost 3 hours later than it should be given - Killian gets up and walks away from me. I go to follow him to do the tent and he growls at me again! Mom loses it! I grabbed him roughly and looked into his eyes and screamed at him!

(Crying hysterically) I'm shouting! You stop this now! You are not going to die dammit! So you stop this crap right now! Sit down!

Well, my beloved completely caved. I'm still not sure if it was from seeing me so firm and angry or seeing his Mom in tears.

I gave him his first shot and it took another hour after for my shaking hand to stop shaking.

We never had an issue again.


KillianAfter being on the Vetsulin for almost three weeks, he developed large lumps the size of baseballs, in the spots that I was giving him his shot.

So back to the Vet we go and we were told it was a reaction to the Vetsulin. My Vet is now concerned he might be insulin resistant. What would that mean if he couldn't take insulin? Panic, took over again. So we tried the human insulin he was on at the emergency hospital but now it would have to be two shots a day and not one. I could do this, I would have to. Also his blood glucose level was quite high on the Vetsulin. I took him in to the Vet’s every few days for a sugar test and he was never under 400. I didn't know that was way to high and no one told me ether. I felt I had no control.

Then one day my son said "Mom why don't you join a support group and learn to care for Killian better."

I myself had never used the computer. The thought again was overwhelming but he showed me what to do and registered me. Showed me how to log out and stop pulling the plug and I made my first post and used the computer for the first time in my life!

Our life with Canine Diabetes

When I joined a dogs’ diabetes board I was shocked how much these people knew. Worse yet, I was sure I would never have anything close to their knowledge. It was all so confusing to me. Terms like "BG"? What was that? It took me months to finally ask what that meant. The answer: "Blood Glucose" I couldn't have felt less stupid! "Curves" and people actually home testing and not going to the Vet to have it done and "rebound" what was all this?

Then there were the restricted diabetic diets, all different depending on the dog and his insulin. So much to learn and I was ready to do just that. I printed all I could get my hands on and when I wasn't on that board learning, I was reading the print outs. I was obsessed with learning all I could.

I even learned that I could cut my cost in more then half with ReliOn Insulin and needles. I was thrilled!

I decided to try to home test. Killian was a big boy so he had callous on his elbows. They told me it would be easy.

Got the meter but again Killian was not cooperating. He would not let me even try. So I had a plan. I sat next to him on his couch, held the meter to my ear and spoke into it as if I was on my cell phone. He fell for it (ha-ha). While sitting there fake-talking I would rub his elbow and then pull out the callous and poof, done! Got a reading first time! I only had to use the cell phone trick 3 more times till it was clear that this was going to be a few times a day adventure he had to get use to and he did. By the end of the first year, when Killian would see me get the meter out, he would jump on his couch and push out his front paw so I could test him. I also would let him watch with me as the numbers registered. I would make such a fuss with each reading and he just loved that.

Within that first year he became ill again: Very ill! Back to the Vet’s and now back to an emergency hospital. It was on New Years Eve.

He was hospitalized for Pancreatitis for 4 days. It was very scary and again I was told he may or may not make it. Throughout our time together, Killian has been hospitalized for Pancreatitis a few times. He just seemed very prone to getting it. It became such that I was able to spot it coming on within hours. By knowing, I have been able to give him "My brat diet" and nurse him back to health, before it turned into a full blown hospital and life risking situation. I did not leave my home for almost 2 years. I became OCD about Killian. I was with him every moment of the day. Learning and caring for him. It became such that we were as one.

We went from a compromised liver values to almost normal (Milk Thistle) I'm sure was the fix all.

I home cooked his meals and also used prescription food. Killian would only eat if hand fed. He loved his food of chicken breast and barley, and some fresh veggies but he likes my one on one time (away from the computer). So food time was Killie and me time. He would sit up on his couch with the pillows propped up two high and a clean fresh towel over them acting as his table. His dish was in front of him at just the right height but not until I came and sat with him and began to say "Once upon a time" and begin a stupid story, would he start to eat from my hands. His big brown eyes would just stare at me for more stories.

In the last few months of Killian’s life he started to fall when getting off his couch. At first I gave it little concern (It must be the new wood floor).

As weeks went on, the falling got worse and soon he would fall over almost anything. I had to lift him up to go out over an eight inch door drop or he would fall. Then his back legs were starting to cross each other, so we went back to the Vet and to the hospital where more tests were done. I was then told about a disorder that they believed Killian had. That disorder was Degenerative Myelopathy.

OK, so now a new hurdle to overcome and win we will, although Degenerative Myelopathy has no cure and is painless. It slowly paralyzes the dog. I bought the necessary "Help him up" lift and was prepared to take things further with a cart with wheels for him. I was in the middle of having ramps put everywhere necessary around my home and then the pain came. The pain got worse in a very short time, so back to the Vet’s and hospital for a new round of tests. The Vet’s last diagnosis was Degenerative Myelopathy / Bone / Spine Cancer.

Within a week I heard him crying at night alone on his couch. He no longer wanted to come onto my bed with me now although there was a ramp to get him up there. His decline was fast. Too fast!

We went to the Vet’s for the last time on June 15th 2009 and there I held him as he went to sleep forever.

I brought him home and created the most amazing burial site for him. I worked on it for the first few weeks non-stop. I was afraid if I stopped, I would have to face the fact that he was never coming back to me. I also added two white benches among the flowery scenery and many lights so he can see. (He was 70% blind.)

So every day and every night at what would have been our time (food and shot time), I can go there sit and be with him and say: "Hello my love. Once upon a time, there was this great big pit bull and this big dog would jump out of windows like superman, looking for his lady love and during the day he would dig up great big rocks the size of boulders and surprise his lady love when she would go to bed and land on one! He was the best dog in the whole wide world and his lady love thought her man would live forever, so when he had to leave her, with him went her heart."

She couldn't accept that with all they had gone through together that this was the end, so all she could think of to do to keep on going was to open a diabetic forum in his memory.

Welcome to the Canine Support Group!

Killian - March 18th 1996 ~ June 15th 2009