The mom and the dad had some people over for a dinner party one night, and one of their guests was intrigued by me. Well, they all were. But one in particular knew that I had a story that needs to be shared. So he called the mom and asked if we would speak at his service club meeting. It was pretty awesome, because this Rotary club is one that the girl’s great grandfather belonged to for years and years. So there were many people who were not only excited to meet me, the daring diabetic alert dog, but also the girl. And the mom too. Some even knew her from when she was the girl’s age. Crazy. But that’s not what this is about. This is about me. And my awesomeness.
We got to the restaurant a bit early (the mom can’t help herself) and they had us make name tags. The girl made mine. Can you tell?
OH, and pardon the duck sit. I know it’s not proper, but it’s comfy. So don’t judge. Whatever, I know you have. And I don’t care. Much.
While the girl was helping to set up things, (she’s really good like that) I could smell she was going too low. So I pawed the mom. And I was right. The people who were there seemed to be impressed. And that’s how I like people to be. The girl got to eat some chips and have a glucose tab. I got cheerios. Ahhh, cheerios.
Then after lunch, the mom and the girl and I all got up to speak to the group. It was pretty ok. The mom can talk. The girl talked a lot too. I chilled. A lot. One of the club members wrote up the talk. Hightlights are below.
- Prez Richard introduced Julia and Laura, and Darwin the DAD, a 2 ½ year old black Labrador retriever and service dog. Julia grew up in Porterville (Bill R’s grandaughter), and blah blah blah….and, most important and most challenging, is Laura’s mega-mom. Today she presented a program on DAD’s, those heroic service dogs that can smell, and then alert, when a human’s blood sugar is way too high or way too low.
- When Laura was 2 ½ she was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, an autoimmune disease whereby the pancreas will not produce insulin on its own at the right times to maintain a stable level of blood sugar. Consequently, blood sugar is monitored frequently and insulin administered as needed. For comparison: a diabetic’s blood sugar level varies as much as 5 times the level of a “normal” person.
- Julia talked about how difficult it is to monitor the blood sugar of such a young, un-self-aware child and of the many scares Laura gave her parents! Imagine Julia’s excitement and relief to discover “Early Alert Canines”, an organization in the Bay Area that takes obedience trained dogs (many are career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind and Canine Companions for Independence) and trains them another 3-4 months to “alert” when a human’s blood sugar is too high or too low. Darwin puts a paw on Laura’s leg or if there is a big problem, Darwin drools… The breeds used most often as DAD’s: black and yellow Labs, and golden retrievers.
- Early Alert is very conscientious about placing the right dog with the right human, and ensuring that all their dogs will be in a safe, appropriate and caring home. In this case, Laura was matched with Darwin, a very calm, mild mannered, not to say phlegmatic, character, as opposed to the dog the family had fallen in love with initially but which was hyper. Not a good match….. Early Alert gives their dogs to patients even though some service dog providers charge up to $25,000 for a dog. They are funded entirely by donation. Prez Richard has distributed the information under separate cover for any of us who would like to donate.
- Darwin has been monitoring Laura for seven months. He has alerted several times when blood sugar swings were so sharp that Laura could have landed in the hospital if the situation hadn’t been handled right away. DAD’s really do a remarkable job!!!
- Laura herself described some of the things Darwin does, but this editor was so enchanted by what she was saying that she neglected to take notes ……..Sorry……I do remember that Laura described some of Darwin’s quirks. Remember, he is a lab, but a lab that hates water and boats! Basically, Laura and Darwin were draped over one another for most of their time with us. Theirs is truly a remarkable bond!!!
- Fun factoid: Darwin the DAD’s favorite reward/ treat: Cheerios!!!!
Pretty nice write up, huh? Oh, and the cheerio thing. Yeah. I like them so much I alerted the moment the mom and the girl the moment they were done talking because the girl was having a post meal high. So sure enough, I got cheerios. AND I got to show all the club members exactly what I do. They were impressed.