Denise Gruzensky is a family nurse practitioner and now a children’s book author. “Not Like The Others: Harley’s Story” ($15.95 in paperback from LifeRich Publishing; also for Amazon Kindle) is subtitled “Having A Pet With Special Needs.” Gruzensky, who lives in Paradise with her husband Denton, lets Harley tell his own story. Replete with full-color photographs, the book is aimed at elementary-school kids.
“I was born in October 2004,” Harley says. “My first family couldn’t keep me so before I was 1 year old I was adopted.” The Yorkshire Terrier admits “I was scared at first, not knowing if I would get to stay, but I learned to love and trust the people who loved me.” It’s evident from Denise’s smiles that she and Harley bonded deeply; then “the same month I turned 5 we moved to California.” Denise had roots there, and that was where Harley first met Denton.
When Harley was six “Denise started noticing I was drinking more water and having pee accidents. … She called the clinic and I went to see them. The doctors ran some tests and found out I had diabetes. The doctors gave Denise some special instructions for giving me my medicine, called insulin. It is given to me two times a day as a shot. I was scared again, not knowing if I would be sent away because I would be too much trouble with all of my problems. Maybe I would have to leave my home and the humans I love.”
But “Denise and Denton found out how to take care of me. They read and looked at the computer to learn about dogs and diabetes. My food and treats were changed to help my sugar levels but I still get to eat my baby carrots.”
The book introduces other animals with special needs. Otis is deaf; Hope has three legs; Abby has asthma. For Harley, “my life might have been very different if my humans had not decided to love me unconditionally, which means no matter what.”
No matter what.