Real life stories

Real life experiences using Caninsulin as part of diabetes management.

Nicky's and Willy's victory against diabetes mellitus

Nicky is a 9 year old black Labrador from Belgium.She has been Willy Van Thielen's companion for 7 years. Willy is blind and relies on Nicky to help him with every-day tasks such as going to the bakery or a café or going out for a walk.

Nicky ensures that Willy gets from A to B safely and quickly. “Much faster than with a white cane”, Willy confirmed to us. “Above all, I don’t need to be afraid that I accidentally hit someone in the shins with my cane. A dog can also anticipate situations and think a bit ahead for me. She finds me an empty chair, which is a bit more difficult and slower with a cane”.

A close knit team, but …

In January 2003 Willy noticed that there was something wrong with Nicky. On the bus home she sat shaking uncontrollably and on arriving home rushed to her water bowl and drank it dry. She also needed to go outside the following night to urinate “something that she had never needed to do before”. She rapidly lost weight. The veterinary surgeon diagnosed diabetes mellitus. The veterinary surgeon started daily treatment with Caninsulin injections.

The first weeks were difficult for both. Nicky needed to be stabilised and Willy had to ask himself a whole load of questions: can I inject Nicky with insulin myself, what sort of food is suitable for her and most of all what can Nicky now do?

In short: EVERYTHING. He goes everywhere with her just as before. Nicky does her job with just as much pleasure and dedication as before. “ She has become a bit slower”, says Willy. But he doesn’t know if that is due to her age or her diabetes.

Giving Caninsulin injections

Thanks to the training he got from his veterinary surgeon, Willy is able to inject Caninsulin himself.

Nicky sits quietly on the kitchen rug and waits until she has been injected. “I only don’t fill the syringe myself”, said Willy, “I can’t see if there are air bubbles in the syringe. I ask my children to do this.” Willy and Nicky also don’t have problems with the fixed routine. “Sometimes it is difficult if you have to get out of bed at 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning, but I do it gladly for Nicky’s health. For this reason I also take her once a month to our veterinary surgeon for a check up”.

What Willy finds disturbing is that people – even when he forbids them – still give Nicky extra treats. “I can’t prevent it because I can’t see it. Later I can tell that her glucose control is no longer stable.”

The future for Willy and Nicky

A guide dog normally works for about 10 years and then goes into well earned retirement.

The waiting list for candidates to receive a new guide dog is usually about 1½ years. Willy will get preference as he is used to having a dog would find it difficult to start using a white cane. Willy says:“ That will be a very difficult decision and I prefer to delay it for as long as possible.”