I subscribe to www.insulinpumpers.org … a wide-ranging but well-managed forum about living with mostly T1 diabetes. I can post a question or a comment … responses come back pretty fast.
Today, I read a series of interesting posts about Diabetes Alert Dogs (D.A.D.) … just had to share it with you. (Full names and email addresses have been deleted)
Subject: [IP] (Now) Diabetic Alert Dogs
This subject is a little painful for me because I just lost my Diabetic Alert Dog yesterday to a mass on his colon, two weeks shy of his 11th birthday.
I trained dogs for 30 years before training Boone for this job, — training any type of service dog is a large undertaking, usually about 2 years for a reliable medical alert dog with public access training.
And the “washout” rate is high, even among the major guide dog schools, because it’s often toward the end of formal training when the dog reveals that (s)he would rather be a treasured pet, or working in another career.
Not everyone would want to embrace the service dog lifestyle, either. It’s a big responsibility, it’s time consuming, and it certainly draws attention to the person on the end of the leash.
But . . . a good alert dog can detect a low or a rapidly dropping BG long before the meter or the CGM. They can dig you out from under the covers during a nocturnal hypo, and knock on the shower door when you’re low. With more training, they can retrieve a meter kit, find the glucose tabs, get juice from the fridge, fetch a telephone, push a call button, alert a family member. Mine rode in the back seat while I drove and would put his paw on my shoulder if I was low or dropping fast. I especially appreciated him while I was active outdoors, like hiking.
When he turned 9 years old and I knew he would eventually need to slow down, I bought him an ice cream, and I bought myself a Dexcom (with the help of insurance). Between them, my A1c came down to my lowest ever, most recently 6.7.
I posted this short video tribute (ALERT: you will cry!) to Boone’s work as my D.A.D. a year ago, for those who would like to see it. Wheels up, Boone, fly with the angels – and I know you are still the angel by my side and always will be!
I did a lot of research. There are some companies that train them for free if you meet their criteria. The company I went with does only rescues which appealed to me and because they start with dogs 1-2 years old, the wait time is less and the cost, well still not inexpensive, is too. And, by the way, I have been pumping 16 years and used the CGM for 10. When I first began losing consciousness, it was suggested I might need another husband. For me, getting a DAD was a much better (and less expensive) choice.
Yes! I got a Diabetic Alert Dog 18 months ago after waking up several times having been in threshold suspend for 2 hours. I live alone and I felt unsafe and more vulnerable to type 1 than I had ever felt. Before her, I felt a little tingle in the base of my spine at about 23. She keeps my numbers so much more even I now feel lows in the 70s & 80s. She wakes me up if I’m dropping or rising fast. She goes to work with me and is a fantastic partner in every way. My doctors are thrilled with the changes she’s made for me. My last A1C was 5.7. When I became hypoglycemic unaware my doctors wanted it about 6.5, but when they downloaded my pump and my kit it showed no significant lows. Best partner in 43 years of type 1!
How many husbands do you currently have? 😉
Husbands ARE more expensive, but their lifespan is considerably longer than the average canine, as well!!