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Sheepdogs and Celiac Disease

Mary, our beloved Miniature Schnauzer, died in March. We knew we'd eventually get another dog, but Chris and I told our sons it was important to grieve Mary. We assured the boys that this summer -- after a few trips and events that required our full attention -- we would get a puppy. Probably.

We hit the promised sweet spot. Boys wanted a large breed; my stipulation was a non-shedder. Our research led us to the decision to add an Old English Sheepdog to our family. I insisted on a female because leg-lifters and humpers are worse (in my mind) than shedders...or reptiles.

A beautiful female was available mid to late summer, exactly when we were. A puppy seeker in California was interested in her, too (so the breeder told me). We needed to make a decision fast. One other pup was still available in the litter -- a male -- described as "chill" and "laid-back." I asked if something was wrong with him. Was he skittish? The breeder said no.

I'm not sure how the holes of the Swiss cheese lined up, but somehow Chris and I decided we were open to purchasing both puppies. "Let's ask the boys," I said to Chris. "They're pragmatic. Maybe two puppies won't appeal to them."

I'm an idiot.


Earlier in the summer, Duke (13YO) transitioned to an insulin pump to manage his diabetes. With the support and encouragement of his older brother, Parke (15YO) -- who uses the same pump, Duke quickly adapted. He loves it. No more shots (or very rarely), and much easier to enjoy food spontaneously.

Both boys had diabetes-related routine blood work done, as well. We were informed while on vacation in Arizona in early July, that a celiac disease screening came back elevated for Duke. Biopsies of his stomach and small intestine were completed within a few days of our return to Utah. Duke was asleep for the procedure. They went through his mouth to get the tissues, so other than a sore throat and anesthesia recovery, he felt fine the next day. Results took close to two weeks.


A couple of days after receiving our precious puppies, we received news that our precious Duke was diagnosed with celiac disease. We cried, but not for long. The tears were less about saying farewell to conventional pizza, pancakes, and cupcakes, but more about the fact that there's one more thing Duke must manage...for life. But again, we wiped our eyes and blew our noses, found a couple of outstanding gluten-free bakeries, and celebrated the fact that there are many delicious, nutritious foods that aren't glutinous. And, the fact that there are worse diagnoses.

So, here we are. Puppies, John and Birdie (nickname for Elizabeth), are more joy and work than we imagined. Their energy, size, and innocent personalities have captured the focus and hearts of our entire family. The five of us feel victorious and fulfilled after a day caring for the brother and sister sheepdogs. We're united...and distracted.

Life is so much more than pizza and cupcakes.

While searching for and eliminating hidden gluten, I left the refrigerator door open as I read labels. Birdie helped. We felt happy.



Reader Comments (5)

Awww what a lovely post Chrisy. Your ability to feel positive about those dogs is nothing short of amazing. I hope you guys are sleeping longer at night by now!!! Huge hugs to Duke! He's a fighter! xoxo

August 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchristy

Coincidentally, I'm trying some positive thinking these days as well. I have a habit of thinking about what I lack rather than what I want (and already have). I can catch my negative thoughts now and sometimes let them go, but I still have trouble thinking positively. I don't know how! You've given me a good lesson here.

August 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermichael.offworld

Hi! I haven't been here in forever. I've missed you! (formerly Baby Fish Mouth).

I have Celiac as well. Crazy world. If you need anything at all, let me know!

Best regards!

September 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

How incredibly brave of you to take on 2 puppies. I think changing over to a gluten-free household would be easier. My son was diagnosed with Celiac 3 years ago. I found it was just easier to cook gluten-free than try to keep track of what he can and can't have. There are some things that just aren't the same, but there are so many things that he can still have.

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLene B.

Chris - Was passing by. You are such a braveheart. Congrats on the dogs and a big hug to Duke. There is more to life than pancakes and pizzas. it makes it a little complicated and more than a little inconvenient, but it is manageable and there are worse things in life. You have a wonderful outlook. Love to all of you.

September 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuchi

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