Posts Categorized: Diabetic Alert Dog

Goodbye, Old Friend

A few days ago, I said goodbye to an old friend who crossed the rainbow bridge. I met him seven years ago when I first came to Christy’s house.

Sparta was as feisty then as he was to the last day. He was about six months old when they met outside a pet store. He had a lame front leg and a twitch, side effects from the distemper he survived. Christy’s heart broke for him, and she took him home as a foster. Today he’d be labeled a foster-fail since he stayed forever!

Because of Sparta, Christy volunteered for the rescue and her daughter GraceAnne was able to put in over a hundred hours, more than enough for her sixth-grade community volunteer requirement.

Sparta had surgery to remove his lame leg and had many nicknames thereafter, one of them being “Tripod.”

But he ran faster than she could catch him when he got out one day and ended up in doggie jail. He was so glad to see Kevin (Christy’s husband) come and bail him out.

All that was before my time. Sparta and I never really saw nose-to-nose, and I always gave him his space. Even Rocky liked him.

But as I watched him slowly lose his ability to walk and do business properly, Christy said it was time to let him go. I licked away Christy’s tears as we said goodbye together.

We’d like to thank Lakeway Animal Hospital for comforting us through a difficult time. Things are done a lot differently out here in Tennessee. We took Sparta’s body home to our farm property and buried him, planting a fruit tree over his coffin. One day we’ll think of him as we pick the nectarines.

It sure is quiet here without you, Sparta. Run free on four legs, my friend.

Tall Things

I go on all of Christy’s adventures and last month was no exception. It seemed I found many large things on this adventure. Christy enjoyed the inspiring speakers and during the breaks, I got to experience some large creatures in the children’s department of the church.

First off, I met up with this long-necked dinosaur and his friend.

They don’t exist anymore and these are made of plaster, but if they were real, I’d hate to meet one face-to-nose!

Across the hall I met a giraffe.

I think it’s a baby, but can you imagine what meeting a live one in person would be like? I think they have to do the splits just to lick my head.

On stage at the event was what Christy called a lighthouse.

They can be found near rocky cliffs guiding ships and boats away from shore, warning them of danger. Since I’m what is called a “landlubber” (unlike most labs, I don’t like water), I probably won’t have to worry about crashing on the rocks.

Christy says I’m her lighthouse because I save her life every day.

 

Birthday Bliss

Well, Christy has done it again. She couldn’t resist celebrating my ninth birthday.

If you want to know how old your dog is in “people” years, here’s an accurate place to find out. According to this chart, I’m one year older than Christy!

When we were first paired together, my birthday happened to arrive on a day we spent with our Dogs4Diabetics friends. Christy made pup-cakes and there were games and prizes and a dog theme. I enjoyed the attention. I especially enjoyed hearing the birthday song. From that day on, every time I heard the song at human parties or on TV, I thought it was for me and I’d be getting a treat.

My birthday was a small celebration, but a celebration, nonetheless. We even squeezed in a photo booth session; I’m not too sure about that small space.

Thanks to my Aunt Cindy, I got these cool Disney chew toys and a travel bowl.

I also got a lot of chew toys you put treats in due to a little brother who destroys everything filled with stuffing that squeaks. I don’t mind.

I had a tasty cake to share and an oatmeal bone. Even though I’m considered a senior dog getting used to an adolescent puppy – a teenager in human years – I’m an easy-going kind of guy, so I think I’m good.

How Old Am I in People Years?

In three days, I will be nine years old.

This year will mark seven years of serving my handler, Christy. She says time is going by too quickly.

I don’t understand what time is, but I do know when it’s time to eat. I start staring at Christy when I get hungry and sometimes, I make a mooing sound like a cow, so she says I definitely know what time is.

The new people I meet think my brindle markings are a sign of old age, but really, the only sign of aging is on my chin. I do have grey hair and Mom says I have a goatee, but I don’t see any goats. At least not in our backyard yet.

For my birthday, Mom makes me pupcakes or buys me special birthday cookies and I get new toys. I will have to keep the toys away from Rocky, however, because he will destroy them before I can woof.

Not much has changed since my last blog post.  He’s still an annoying little brother. I’ll just have to gobble my birthday goodies faster before he can sink his teeth into my celebration.

If you celebrate your furry companion’s birthday, please let me know in the comments. Christy and I would love to see how you enjoy your pet’s special day.

I’m Really Not a Service Dog

Service dog? Not me! I’m a privileged pet.

I lay around on everything and sleep most of the day. I get two wonderful meals a day and have a fenced backyard all to myself to play in.

I also have my own soft kennel that zips up for privacy and all the toys and chew bones I want. After all, I will be nine years old this month and that’s a lot of years for a dog.

So, in my mind I think I’m a pet, but then I catch a scent of something, and I realize, I’m a dog with a purpose. I smell Christy’s blood sugar dropping and get right to work alerting her.

Working is a privilege for me, and I love having a job. It means I am with Christy twenty-four hours a day wherever she goes.

But Mom is planning for my future. She’s worried about my retirement one day when I will no longer be able to go with her in public and another dog will take my place. That’s why she got the annoying puppy to be my companion when I have to stay home one day so I won’t be lonely.

My young furry friend, Rocky, steals my chew bones and has ripped up all my stuffed toys.

Mom is trying to teach him basic manners, but he’s strong-willed.

So, I was just fooling you. After all, it is April 1st. Even though secretly inside I want to be a normal pet, I truly am a service dog who has a great handler thinking ahead for all our good.

Mom hopes I have a lot of years left in me to keep on working and so do I.

Just Trying to Do My Job

Many people who observe me with my handler, Christy, notice I keep my eye on her. A lot of people comment that I only do it for the treats from the pouch she wears.

Yes, I love food, but the purpose of giving me treats is to keep “Sustained Focus on the Handler.” When I keep my eyes on Christy, I’m focused and I get a reward, but rewards are limited to a certain amount per day.

When I alert Christy to a low blood sugar and I’m correct, I get the high-value treats.

I love those treats so much; I try to get them by pretending to alert. But Christy knows I am a foody because Labradors love food, and she tells me, “Let’s check” for an immediate blood sugar result.

If I’m wrong, she will give me one regular kibble and say, “ten minutes,” since my nose is faster than a continuous glucose monitor, and her blood sugar could drop that quickly.

When ten minutes pass, and she hasn’t dropped, it’s obvious I was just looking for a treat. It’s a process both of us have been highly trained on and strictly follow. It helps keep me in line.

Is that legal?

So, we visited a new doctor’s office and as we checked in, the receptionist asked if Christy had a dog with her and proceeded to tell her she had to leave.

Did you know there is only one question that can be asked of the service dog’s handler? “What work or task is the dog trained to perform?” Anything else is illegal.

Unfortunately, Christy had to educate the new office and hopefully there will be no repercussions. All this because people try to pass their pets as service animals.

If you sign up for Christy’s newsletter, you will receive a list of how to identify imposter service dogs. Plus, you’ll learn lots more about the important role service dogs play and how to spot the real ones in this article on a veterinarian’s website, AtlanticVetSeattle.com. Christy was quoted in the article, and I’m the “cover dog!”

If you think being a service dog is an easy job, think again. My job may be to keep focused and alert, but Christy’s job is to educate and sometimes that is indeed harder than mine.

Puppy Love

It’s a good thing I’m a laid-back, tolerant kind of guy because this black furball can get on my nerves at times.

No matter what I do, he’s in my face, literally chewing on my ears or my lips. He especially likes pulling me around by my bringsel or alert bar.

One day Rocky did something I’d never do. He chewed off and swallowed a cloth leg from his favorite octopus Kong toy that used to look like this:

Mom has since cut off all the tentacles.

Mom had to make Rocky throw up because he was having tummy trouble. Sure enough, up came a slimy blue leg and everything else he’d eaten.

EWWW! Little brothers are gross!

But he’s not so little anymore. If it weren’t for my brindle markings on my coat, mom says she wouldn’t be able to tell us apart.

Whenever a new dog comes around, that usually means we are fostering or dog-sitting. But Rocky isn’t going away. He’s a permanent part of our family.

Since it is the month where humans celebrate love, I’ll give him an obligatory friendly slurp, and maybe a “keep your distance” nip.

Mom is trying her best to train him in basic obedience. He can be wild, but when she puts him on a leash, he acts like Superman with kryptonite. He melts into a puddle and doesn’t move.

I guess he’s here to stay. Welcome to the family, Rockefeller or Rocky. Mom sure picked the right name for you!

Snow Doggy Blog

So far the new year has been SNOW much fun!

It started early in the morning with little flakes coming down. The snowfall wasn’t very impressive; just a slight dusting.

But by noon, the flakes were at least the size of my doggy kibble and the grass was disappearing. It kept coming down for more than a day.

I always look forward to snow because I like to play in it and catch snowballs. By the evening, snowmen were appearing all around the neighborhood. It piled up everywhere.

The next day I went out to romp in the field next to us, but my snow time didn’t last long. I got cold feet really fast.

The zero-degree weather stuck around for almost a week until it rained, and things started melting.

But before it all went away, I wanted to meet a snowman. Mom found a Mr. and Mrs. Snowman who were dwindling away and had lost their faces. When she tried to put a smile back on Mr. Snowman, she accidentally knocked his head off.

He lost a couple of inches in his neckline and got shorter, but he’s all gone now. At least, until the next snow storm, when snow people will show up out of the vast whiteness, only to disappear in the first winter heat wave.

A Dog’s Nose Knows

I was really busy last night doing my job.

Two times, just a couple hours apart, Christy had a low blood sugar, and I was awakened, making sure she was going to be okay. She told me it was pretty bad because she saw stars spinning around as she stumbled to get some sugar. I was ready to get help and wake up Kevin if she gave me the command.

Even though I enjoy being a regular dog, I’m always – how would you humans say it? – “on-call,” so I’m never off duty.

My super-sniffing nose is working 24/7 to smell low and high blood sugars and alert Christy before it becomes an emergency.

For non-diabetics, normal blood sugar is 80-120 mgdl (milligrams per deciliter). When Christy tested last night, her number came up in the low 30s. No wonder she saw stars.

During the day I alert Christy by holding in my mouth the cloth bar (or bringsel) that hangs from my collar

But at night, I often have to get up and move around, I make a mooing sound or sometimes I will even jump on the bed to get her attention.

No matter how I carry out my job, my nose knows what it’s doing.

A Dog’s Thoughts on Holiday Decorations

When Mom wasn’t dressing us up for Christmas card pictures, she’d take me with her as usual, wherever she needed to go. Sorry, Rocky, you have to stay at home.

I met a nice Santa, but he’s not the real reason we celebrate.

The birth of Jesus is the reason.

Everywhere I went this Christmas I encountered larger-than-life decorations. A strange whirring sound comes along with them. But if the sound wasn’t there, the decorations wouldn’t be either.  I couldn’t resist sharing a few of them with you.

These teddy bears got a little friendly with me. They also forgot to ask if they could pet the service dog!

One of the decorations looked to me like a nice doghouse, so I laid down for a rest.

I met a snowman, but it wasn’t Frosty. How do I know this? My sniffer told me he wasn’t made of the magic Christmas snow.

Nearby was the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer story. But he wasn’t scary at all.

The only things that scare me are thunder and fireworks. So, remember, if you have a pet who’s afraid of fireworks and plan to celebrate on New Year’s Eve, make sure they are in a secure place with plenty of comfort. I’d hate to have my furry comrades lost.

Happy New Year!

Aiden