A Dog and His Kid

Diabetes alert dogs (D.A.D.s) are trained to use their canine sniffing superpowers to detect out-of-range blood sugar in their human companions. Furry snuggles and face licks are really just a side benefit! Prepare to take a look into some seriously adorable puppy-dog eyes and hear the incredible stories of how these D.A.D.s saved the day.

Jedi Goes to School

“What’s it like to have a D.A.D. at school? Yesterday and today, Jedi alerted Luke to numbers in the low 70s during class. His alerts happened before the meters caught them, and Luke was able to eat some candy to stop the drop and coast back up to between 80 and 90. Way to prevent those lows, Jedi! Every low and high we prevent means more time spent in class and less time that Luke feels crummy.”

—Dorrie, Glendale, Calif., mom of 7-year-old Luke

Darwin at Disneyland

“On our trip to Disneyland, Darwin helped out on what turned out to be a tricky day for our daughter Laura’s blood sugars. Just before we sat down to eat lunch at a park restaurant, Darwin alerted. Sure enough, Laura had dropped just below 80. We gave her half a banana to eat while we waited for our meal. Under normal circumstances, the half banana would have brought her blood sugar way up. When Darwin alerted again, we thought that he was noticing a high, so we just patted his head and told him to settle down under the table. And that’s when Darwin refused to move — he totally froze. This kind of ‘trained disobedience’ is actually a last resort to get people to notice and react. So we finally caught on that there was a problem. We checked Laura’s blood sugar again, and sure enough, she had dropped again — just slightly, but still! Phew. We were about to bolus her for lunch, but thanks to Darwin’s insistence, we checked and then made the decision not to bolus for all the carbs. Our D.A.D. saved our day at Disneyland!”

—Julie, California, mom of Laura

A Hidden Gift

“Flint is a wonderful alert dog who unfortunately wasn’t an ideal match for our family after 18 months of training. With four children in our home, Flint’s sheep-herding instincts as an Australian shepherd kicked in pretty hard. Some other serious incidents took place that made it clear Flint would be better off living with a single adult. We worked so hard to welcome Flint into our home; and it was stressful and sad realizing he needed different placement. But everything happens for a reason: One month after being placed with us, Flint alerted again and again one particular early morning, keeping our son Sean eating for hours. Nevertheless, after going back to sleep, Sean later woke up on his own, came to me, and collapsed from hypoglycemia. Without Flint’s persistence earlier, I fear Sean may have never gotten up. That experience made every moment with him worth it. Today, Flint is happily alerting for a young adult with type 1 who brings him along to all the jewelry fairs she participates in.”

—Anna, California, mom of 15-year-old Sean

Love at First Sight

“The first time Vivian met Indy, there were tears (from me), because I knew having Indy was a game changer. It was love at first sight for Vivian, who was excited to have a new best friend to help with her diabetes. Indy knows Vivian is ‘his person,’ and he watches over her and knows when she needs some cheering up, in addition to catching her blood sugar dropping!”

—Amy, Zionsville, Ind., mom of 7-year-old Vivian

Another Kind of D-Mom

“We first met our D.A.D. as a wee little puppy! Our trainer kept us informed by sending us photos and videos of Freddie as he grew bigger and started training. We began training with Freddie when he was almost a year old, and then he finally came to live with us. That very first weekend, he caught our son going low. I could sense the pride Freddie felt in doing a good job right out of the box. I could almost hear his thoughts: ‘Nailed it!’ We love this dog because of how well he serves our child and because he is simply a great dog! I always joke that I am a D-mom and the D stands for diabetes — and dog!”

—Victoria, Phoenix, mom of 14-year-old Sam

A Constant Companion

“Kelton first met Axel when he was an 8-week-old puppy. Even then, as a young pup, Axel wouldn’t leave Kelton’s side. The trainer said it was one of the strongest natural connections he had witnessed. They have been a permanent team since July 2017, when Axel left his full-time trainer in Tennessee and moved to Florida to be with Kelton forever. As you can see, he still has to be close to Kelton at all times, and Kelton wouldn’t have it any other way!”

—Michelle, Florida, mom of 15-year-old Kelton

A Nose for Things

“We’ve always been a dog family, and Moka (on the left) fits right in. Some of his alerts have been incredible. One time Joely went with her dad to the store about a mile away. Moka stayed home with me. He was on the porch and then ran inside and started alerting like crazy. (He is trained to alert by placing a paw on my leg.) I texted my husband to check Joely’s blood sugar ASAP! The meter said 77. My husband was able to give her some juice to stop her from dropping further. I asked where he was when I texted, and he said they were walking through the store parking lot. Somehow the scent of a low wafted down the road to Moka’s nose. What an incredible gift. I am in awe of these dogs!”

—Dana, Moscow, Idaho, mom of 11-year-old Joely

A Moment to Remember

“Every once in a while, we meet with people who are thinking about getting a diabetes alert dog to share with them about life with a service dog. We recently met a lovely mother and daughter and introduced Sadie and Hero to them. While we were visiting, Hero did a great alert. The mom started tearing up, and I was taken back to three years ago when I first met KC [our trainer] and her dogs. [When we walked into the training facility], 10 dogs alerted almost immediately on Sadie that she was dropping low. I can still remember the rush of emotion I experienced in that moment. I remember the relief I felt knowing that there was hope and that I wasn’t alone anymore. It’s one of my favorite life-changing moments I will always cherish.”

—Michelle, Utah, mom of 6-year-old Sadie

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.

 

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