Meet Duncan!

 I would like to introduce you to this little guy. His name is Duncan, and we adopted him only two short months ago, but I honestly can’t imagine my life without him in it. This guy is very special to me, and I would like to tell you his story.

It was well past midnight in May when I crossed paths with this little guy. I volunteer as an assistant webmaster for a shelter named SOAR (Southport-Oak Island Animal Rescue), and was doing some updates to their website. As those of you who “surf” the internet will understand, I was checking out some websites, one click led to another…and I ended up on, with a search on beagles in our area. I definitely have a soft-spot for beagles. There’s just something about them that melts my heart. In fact, we already had two beagles at the time, Daisy and Dixie. I had been “itching” for another, but had managed to successfully talk myself out of it each time I saw one. This time was different.

I saw Duncan’s picture, and my heart melted. He was peeking over the side of someone’s bed, with his big brown eyes wide open and his head cocked to the side listening intently. He was absolutely adorable. I realized it was going to be really difficult to talk myself out of this one. Then I clicked on his picture to read his story. Duncan was a year and-a-half old, and was special—he was completely blind. The Humane Society where he was being fostered explained that they were being extremely selective in choosing a “forever” home for him. They requested a fenced-in yard so that he could play safely, a home with another dog to be his “seeing-eye dog”, and a family where someone was home most of the time.

Well, the first thing we did when we moved into our house was to have the backyard fenced in. Dixie, our little beagle, was Duncan’s size and has a great, easy-going personality. And I work from home as a computer programmer, so I’m here every day. It seemed like fate! So I got the blessing (and a push!) from my husband and family, and emailed the Humane Society. They brought Duncan here for a visit, and immediately approved. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was worried about adopting a blind dog. Were we prepared? Would we have to change our lifestyle? Duncan showed us the very first night that he’s just like every other dog. It was amazing to watch him “map” out our entire house. He walked all around the perimeter, memorizing each wall and all the furniture. He learned stairs in two hours. Within no time, he found the toy basket, picked toys out, and brought them into his “lair”…a little dog bed in the corner of our living room that he claimed as his. He followed us everywhere, looking up at us just like he could see us. At night, he cuddled up to my neck and snored softly.

Everything was wonderful except for one thing. I noticed right away that Duncan seemed to be drinking and urinating frequently. He would have to go potty every two hours, and would have a few accidents a day. He would howl when we would turn the faucet on, almost like he was “begging” for water. This worried me, so I took him to our vet. They were concerned about his urine concentration; the fact that it wasn’t at all concentrated. They believed it to be Cushing’s disease, which did not have a very good prognosis, and recommended that we test him for that. Since Duncan seemed to be a happy guy besides the drinking and urinating, I hoped and prayed that he would not be diagnosed with that disease. It was when the vet called me with the results that I realized just how much I loved this dog. It had been a grueling 8-hour test, with Duncan staying at the vet all day and receiving a cortisone injection and having his blood drawn every two hours to gauge his reaction to the injection. I waited anxiously for the phone call. Finally, she called and told us that he tested negative for Cushing’s. I hung up with her and the tears flowed. I held my little guy and cried for a long time afterwards, relieved that we were going to have him with us for a long time to come.

So, after much research and worrying, we decided to test Duncan for a very rare form of Diabetes. It’s called Diabetes Insipidus, and it deals with the body’s inability to balance water intake. Left untreated, the dog could suffer death from dehydration. With treatment, the dog is able to absorb the water they need, and the prognosis is good. The medicine comes as a nasal spray, for humans, and we use it as eye drops for Duncan. We started the medicine a month ago, and since then, he’s been perfect. He hasn’t had a single accident in the house, and he sleeps through the night without waking up. His urine concentration was tested last week and it’s completely normal now. He seems happier, I believe, because he is not worrying about where his next drink will come from. The medicine is expensive (about $120 a month), and he will need that for the rest of his life. But, we’ve adjusted our budget and we will deal with that. One look at this little guy’s face and money is just no option.

Duncan has taught us so much in just two months. I remember being so anxious about adopting a “special needs” dog, and now I realize that my fears were completely unfounded. Everyone who meets him and watches him chase Dixie in the backyard asks, “Are you sure that he’s blind?” They are so baffled by just how “normal” he is! Duncan brings us such immeasurable happiness, as do our other two dogs. I would highly recommend adopting a “special needs” pet. They will prove to you how adaptable they can be, and will give you so much love and gratitude in return that will fill your heart. I believe that adopted dogs are extra special because they’ve known what it’s like to be neglected or abused or forgotten, and when they get a second chance at a loving home, they are so very grateful. The love and trust our dogs show us is simply amazing, and I am convinced that having them in our lives has made us better people.

Story by Mara, "mom" to Duncan, Dixie & Daisy
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