Close Calls and Old Dogs

It's been a worrisome week here at Casa Tuttle.

As many of you know, dogs outnumber humans here by a ratio of more than two to one. Mister Fletcher is our most senior dog, being somewhere around ten years old.

We got him from a shelter in Olive Branch, just south of Memphis, when his number was nearly up. I still don't know exactly how I knew Fletcher would be such a great dog. He's not a purebred anything. He's exactly the kind of dog that all too often goes unnoticed in a shelter -- big and brown with a black muzzle. Nothing cute of fuzzy about him.

But something about his big goofy mug in that tiny pic caught my eye.  Dog Max needed a buddy, since the other dogs were all so much older than he was. So we took Max up to meet Fletcher, to see if they'd hit it off or snarl at each other.

They bonded instantly.  We brought Fletcher home the next day, and he's been with us for nine years. He's Max's best friend and protector. Ours, too.

Fletcher is the house watchdog. He counts people in rooms. He patrols. He has excellent situational awareness, even though he's a bit past his prime.

Monday morning, what had been a bout of lethargy turned serious. He could barely walk. We could look in his eyes and see something was wrong, so to the vet he went.

You don't take a dog that old to the vet without a cold grip taking hold of your heart. Especially a dog that can no longer hold his head up. We feared the worst.

But Fletcher's weakness was discovered to be the result of diabetes. I didn't even know dogs got diabetes. But they do, and he did, and if we hadn't taken him to see Dr. Sullivan he wouldn't have made it.

He's a trooper. Two days of IV fluids and insulin injections have left him thinner and still weak, but this afternoon he walked and wagged his tail and licked out hands in greeting.  If his numbers stay stable throughout the night and day, we'll be bringing our man Fletcher home tomorrow afternoon.

Of course, he'll need twice-daily insulin injections, special food, and a strict diet and feeding regimen thereafter. But that's fine.

The thing about dogs is this.

They'd charge a herd of rhinos without hesitation to protect their people. They'll lay at your feet and snooze all day, if that's what you want, or they'll walk until their paws bleed. They'll stick with you for every moment of their lives, for better or for worse, and they'll do it all for nothing more than a pat on the head and an occasional 'good boy.'

Which is why I'm tempted to throat-punch people who hear about Fletcher and say something like 'I'd never go to all that trouble for a dog.'

Those people don't get it. Fletcher would walk through fire if he thought I was in trouble, or Karen. Maybe he's not such a whiz at math. Maybe he does not, and will never, wear pants.

But he's still an old and dear friend, who has literally spent his life at our side, never asking for a thing, always willing to give all.

So hurry up and get well, Fletch.  We miss you.

Good boy.