Our darling mini-schnauzer, Noodle Rush, passed away last week.
Noodle was more than my first dog; she was my partner in diabetes care. Named after one of my favorite carbohydrates, from her very first snuffle into our lives she began to train me with regular walks and daily rituals that kept my sugars low and my weight in check.
So when she passed, I lost more than my ever-present daily companion for thirteen and a half years: I lost a vital part of my diabetes therapy.
Take those walks. They were never exactly aerobic. But Noodle insisted on us getting out at least five times a day (I didn’t say she wasn’t spoiled) to check on the doings of our very dog-centric neighborhood. She often spent more time sniffing than walking, but our treks were enough to boost my daily step count and to take off about five pounds from around my hips.
Every day, a sharp little bark from her post on the stairs alerted me that it was time to go. And while the walks didn’t excuse me from my twice-a-week weight lifting class or daily indoor bicycling, they got me up and out on days – including wet and snowy ones – when I would have been inclined to stay tied to my computer screen.
The walks were valuable for another reason as well. Scheduled about two hours after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they were perfectly attuned to remind me to take my blood glucose readings. While I pricked my finger and then waited for the number to appear on the screen, Noodle paused by my knee, impatiently waiting for us to proceed.
Noodle didn’t have diabetes, but she did have a bit of a weight problem. Although officially a mini-schnauzer, she was always a little porky for her breed. We liked to blame it on ‘big bones’ but it was probably due to one or three or four too many Milk-Bones per day. It wasn’t that she ate unhealthily, but like me, she liked to eat a lot of whatever we put on her. And, like her owner, she rarely turned down a treat.
Neither of us cared for cutting back, but together, we realized that we looked and felt better when we did.
At night, after her final walk, the two of us gathered in the kitchen to share a pre-measured pre-bedtime snack: a handful of nuts for me and a dried chicken strip for her. It was a perfect time for some ear and belly rubs and a moment to de-stress – also important for diabetes — from a long day.
Noodle wasn’t an official diabetic therapy dog. She didn’t fetch me boxes of orange juice when my sugar was low. She couldn’t sniff out when it was high. But while she lived, she provided plenty of therapy for me.