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Dog chews off owner’s toe; may have saved his life

08/04/2010

From Grand Rapids News via MSNBC.com:

Dogs that bite are not ordinarily lavished with praise, but Jerry Douthett’s little dog Kiko is being hailed as a lifesaver.

Kiko apparently sensed an infection festering in his master’s right big toe — and chewed most of it off after Douthett passed out in a drunken stupor.

A trip to the hospital confirmed Douthett’s digit required amputation, and Kiko is being heralded by his owner for helping him realize he has been suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Douthett had a dangerously high blood-sugar level of 560 when admitted — many times the recommended 80 to 120.

“Jerry had had all these Margaritas, so I just let him sleep,” said his wife, Rosee, a registered nurse. “But then I heard these screams coming from the bedroom, and he was yelling, ‘My toe’s gone, my toe’s gone!'”

The Rockford man’s strange odyssey began several months ago when he started picking at what he thought was a small sliver on the bottom of his toe. He used a knife to cut skin away from the affected area, but it worsened, swelling so much he had to eschew shoes and resort to loose-fitting sandals.

“I was hiding it from people, Rosee included,” said Douthett, 48, who is a musician and a well-known wheeler-dealer in Rockford, where he was born and raised.

“It smelled, and I look back now and realize every time we’d visit someone with a dog, their dog would be sniffing all over my foot.”

Lampen said it was crucial Douthett seek medical help because his glucose level was so high. He believes Douthett didn’t immediately awaken partly because of nerve damage caused by diabetes.

“A normal person, even consuming that much alcohol, probably would have awakened much earlier,” Lampen said.

The case should stand as a teachable moment for countless people who have uncontrolled diabetes, the doctor said, noting it is easily diagnosed. Douthett can live a healthy life if he watches his diet and manages other aspects of his disease, he said.

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