Otis is a Cairn/miniature poodle mix and very much the king of the dogs here at Silver Linings. At 14 years old and weighing in at just 18 pounds, he is universally adored by humans and animals alike and, acts with such authority that, even Bruno (the 85 lb pit mix) obediently awaits Otis’s instructions. Otis was chosen to be adopted by us, when he was one year old, by our dog, Diva, and they were best friends for her entire life. He developed diabetes when he was about 11 years old, shortly after Diva’s passing. At the time, he was depressed and was less enthusiastic about food (we felt the same way), he was otherwise normal - but, when he wouldn’t even eat freshly prepared people food, he earned himself a very expensive 3 day stay at the emergency veterinary clinic where he was diagnosed with diabetes, managed for dehydration (even though he had been drinking normally, it wasn’t enough) and sent with insulin and lots of other meds to help get him back up to speed. Otis quickly bounced back and was switched to a type of insulin that stays active in the system for longer, in hopes of minimizing any potential complications. Unfortunately, even with our best efforts, within 6 months of his diagnosis, his eyes had become uncontrollably inflamed, his vision was lost and it became necessary to remove both of his eyes to spare him from terrible pain (a side note, in our research, both diabetes and eye problems like these are common in poodles). We were rather surprised to find out that Otis was blind - he didn’t seem blind - and, now, even without eyes, he still doesn’t. As you can see, his hair style makes it hard to see his eye area and most people are astonished when we tell them his condition as he runs around at their feet with astonishing precision in the yard. He breezed through his enucleation surgery and recovered very quickly, once again. He still had one major health obstacle to contend with: his teeth. His breeding also predisposes to dental problems and Otis had already had multiple teeth removed several year prior - but, by this point, his mouth was in bad shape again. Once more, poor Otis had to go back under general anesthesia and have all but two of his teeth removed. It was during the blood work for this procedure that we found that Otis also had kidney disease. However, yet again, after his oral surgery, he bounced back - this time, even better than before. With the issues in his mouth and eyes corrected, his comfort level (which had seemed good already) was fantastic and his insulin actually had to be cut in half (pain and stress can have a significant impact on blood chemistry). Otis was acting like a happy puppy at home, but, he was seeing a veterinary specialist regularly to do blood work and glucose curves and he had clearly had enough of regular, day long trips to the vet. His specialist is amazing and her diligence had saved Otis’s life - but, every time he came home, he would stop eating and his body would shake for days afterwards. It started taking him a full week to recover from his vet visits. Stress like this is terrible for diabetes and kidney disease and, after three visits like this, he wasn’t bouncing back like he had been and we were getting worried. It didn’t seem fair that, in the process of checking to see how he was doing, we were unintentionally making him miserable. So, we made the difficult decision to manage Otis at home - he had become so adverse to traveling, we thought we might be dealing with more of a hospice situation. However, that was almost a year ago and Otis has done exceptionally well with his home care. We have a wonderful team of small animal vets - both a great clinic nearby and a fabulous vet who visits us. The traveling vet showed us how to do the blood glucose curves and got us all the testing equipment we needed. The clinic gets him in and out for his blood work check ups and is only 10 minutes from the sanctuary (the specialist is an hour and a half round trip). It took him a couple of months to stabilize - but, he’s back to himself in a big way. He runs around the dog yard, bosses his dog friends around, goes for walks with us around the farm (we tap our hand on our leg to make sounds he can follow) - he’s a very smart dog and he’s constantly surprising us with his activity level and the things he can do (chasing the rooster is a particularly comical example).
Otis has a strict schedule. Because of his health issues, he can only eat prescription dog food and has to have his meals at specific times with his medications, supplements and insulin injections. He loves exercise and goes outside to play with his friends in the “dog yard” and enjoys running around the farm smelling everything (closely supervised by us). His ability to navigate all kinds of terrain is extraordinary and he understands voice commands very well - if we see him going towards trouble, he obeys immediately when he hears “stop” and slows down for “careful”. It’s easy to assume that, at his age, after everything he’s been through, Otis might be winding down but, he has a fantastic quality of life and we are inspired by his enthusiasm and resilience every day.