Norm, a low blood sugar alert service dog, lived with me, day and night, for over 13 years. His time with me sadly ended in late July. I was forced to euthanize him when, at age 15, he lost all ability to walk. His time had come.
This photo captures his energy and spirit well. When I moved to Portland in 2016 and sold my car, we walked 100s of miles exploring my new neighborhood. Averaging about 3-5 miles per day, I recall it as one of the happiest times in my life.
Norm was the only dog I’ve ever had. His calm energy was the perfect match for me. I tend toward the “type A” personality and Norm’s demeanor nicely balanced that out. He rarely barked and never jumped up when greeting anyone.
The service dog training agency placed Norm with me so that I might receive some warning when he smelled a low blood sugar. He excelled at theses alerts and even woke me up at night. His incentive was a food treat and special affection. He gave me low-blood sugar alerts on his last day!
I realized that Norm’s service to me was much more than hypo alerts. His willingness to share the endless burden that is diabetes created a bond with me stronger than I thought possible.
We all carry on a conversation with ourselves each day. The quality of this conversation is good gauge of the mental health one lives with. Norm brightened the internal dialog that I carried on with myself. I was much quicker to cut myself (and others) some slack when things weren’t going well. Norm was always there to remind me of the goodness in every moment and just how important “now” was. It is, after all, all we ever have!
I apologize for the delay in posting this. I guess I knew it would take a small pile of tissue to get through. The tearful grieving continues and heals as well. I’m sure that anyone who has had and lost a loyal canine (and other pets) companion understands.
Norm will never be completely “gone” to me. His spirit lives on and I’m thankful for all the time we had together! I am a better person because of Norm and his memory brings me special joy and meaning.
Sending hugs, Terry, for the loss of Norm. He was indeed a great dog who helped keep you safe and gave you lots of love and companionship. I met Norm at the first Diabetes Unconference and that was so long ago that he must not have been very old. Labs are the best and I know that your heart is broken.
Best boy, Norm, so sorry he has crossed the rainbow bridge, but he gave his best to you.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Dogs are so special.
Thank-you, Laddie. Your love and loss of your black lab, Abby, makes your expression of sympathy special to me. Was that four years ago??!
Thank-you @Luis3 and @Brianna1 for your kind words.
I also met Norm (and Terry) at that conference, and impressed by him. He was always at your side.
Having owned and fostered many dogs and cats, it is a great experience but sad when being adopted or passing.
Seems you’ve had lots of experience parting with many pets/foster animals. The emotional cost seems high to me but it must be satisfying too. You provide a great service to people, caring for a stream of animals in need of care.
When fosters are placed to new adopter, its very gratifying, especially pets rescued from high kill shelters.
I hope you consider a new companion when the time feels right.
Thank you Norm. We love and miss you.
I lost a 13 yr old dog with Cushings disese in November and my 16 yr old Golden Retriever in July. I know how hard it is. What a wonderful story though of how this precious dog assisted you with your diabetes. I hope and pray you find another companion. We have already adopted a new puppy, and she’s keeping my blood sugar low because I’m jumping all over the place trying to keep her from getting in trouble. My husband is a cancer patient and she seems to know he needs some extra care. What a beautiful dog you had and thank you for sharing your story.
I really appreciate your words, @Laura_S. Your losing two long-lived dogs in such a short time I’m sure is especially painful. Writing this account and reading all the replies brings tears to my eyes that I think I’ve been avoiding.
Dogs are so emotionally intelligent. They exhibit a certain deference to babies as well as disabled people. I noticed that even rambunctious dogs greeted Norm, a senior dog, in a calmer manner when we met on the street and at the park.
The issue of getting another dog will likely get sorted out by the wisdom of passing time. I worry about my impaired balance and gait due to a stroke. Yet, the director of a service dog agency assured me that they could pair me up with an appropriate dog.
Thank you, Laura and all the others who commented (and read!) this story. It’s been therapeutic for me. It’s a not so gentle reminder that the path forward is not around but through a problem!
Some dogs deeply touch our heart and to lose them is very hard. Hugs Terry.
Terry. I’m so sorry for the loss of your faithful companion, Norm. He has a beautiful, loving smile in the photo you shared. I have and always have had dogs in my life and know what happiness they bring into our lives. Losing a fur baby is hard that only time heals. I hope you are able to adopt another service dog.
Terry, I am so sorry to hear about your faithful and true companion. I had the pleasure of meeting the two of you here in Portland (at the Grand Central Bakery). To me it makes total sense that “dog” spelled backwards is “god” - cuz they are gods and angels.
A beautifully crafted tribute, Terry. He sounds like a special guy who had a lovely life with you. Losing a pet is so so awful. Hugs to you.
I appreciate your reply, @artwoman. I definitely remember walking with Norm through the snow-covered streets toward our meeting at that bakery. It wasn’t that Portland received a lot of snow but it baffled me that no one owned a snow shovel!
From today’s perspective, I am grateful that Norm accompanied me during that challenging hike and also that I was fit and agile enough to do it.
I agree, dogs are gods of a sort that willingly give their support and energy to whatever project you pick. The depth of their loyalty is hard to appreciate until you experience it!
Thanks for bringing up that day. It was so nice to make your acquaintance!
Thank-you for your kind comment, Charlotte.
Thanks to @Marie20 and @Trying for your support and encouragement.
The death of a well loved pet can be extremely painful as you know. Three years ago, we too had to let our 17 yr old Spot go, when it became too difficult for him to walk. I still can’t think about his death without crying. I fed him bacon, his favorite food, until the first shot from the vet made him very sleepy. He happily ate the bacon until he laid his head on the ground in our yard. We hated so much to see him go, but we had to end his painful life. I am sitting here crying.
We decided we were maybe too old to get another dog who might have to live his last years without us, so we adopted two cats who needed homes. We love them too.
I hope sharing your feelings so beautifully helps bring you peace.