Has anyone had any experience with a diabetes service dog?


(CrystalK) #1

Just found out about diabetes service dogs that are suppose to alert you to highs and lows.  Has anyone tried this?  Thank you!!


(paulg765) #2

Hi Crystal,

Having seen your post I checked out the website www.heavenscentpaws.com, and having read through all the info, now know that this is definitely not for me or my household.  Here are my primary reasons ( not in order of importance).

First of all, they say that you can not have any dogs in your home other than the service dog.  And, there's no way I would give up my 3-year-old beagle.
With her nose she'd probably be great at detecting highs and lows.  She can sniff out a rabbit half a mile away.

Secondly, it's fairly expensive (between $6000 and $7500 in donations) plus you have to attend a 3-week training class in Missouri.

Thirdly, you have to continue to "work with" the dog at home in order for it to be successful

Personally, I see a CGMS as a better option. 

 

Paul


(larawithhrt) #3

I really researched this two years ago and at that time only found two organizations that do it.

Heavenscents.com:  the one in Missouri already mentioned (way too expensive for me) and could not do the 3 weeks away from the family (am a mom of 3)

and  Dogs4diabetics in northern CA.  I applied to them, but found out you have to live in their area for training purposes- I'm in So. CA so they couldn't do it

This is the heartwarming part of this research story.  Ok, two years ago, I really, really disliked dogs!!!! They slobber and are gross(this comment will probably spur alot of comments).  They are just too messy,etc...  I like other animals (ok I grew up with cats!) I wouldn't tell people I didn't like dogs, but when they would greet me at the door at friend's homes and jump on me and slobber, I would cringe all the while trying to pretend that their dog was not bothering me.  Yuck!

Anyway, I am a type 1 for 26 years and I also have a type 1 daughter who is now 8.  She got it at age 5 and was asking for a dog for years!!!  Actually, my husband and two other kids wanted a dog for years too.  My husband knows my aversion to dogs so relented to me since he knew the responsibility would probably fall on me since I am the "stay at home" mom. 

Julia,my diabetic daughter, would write only one thing on her list to Santa every year:"Dog".   Every year she wouldn't get one!  Bah Hum bug!!  Then one day I saw a PBS documentary on service dogs and how they can sniff out cancer, and alert people of seizures and SNIFF out LOW Blood sugars!!!  At the time Julia was 5 1/2 and only 6 months into having diabetes.  Honestly, I couldn't sleep at night wondering if she would have a low blood sugar and not wake up.  I always wake up when I have a low, but would she???? It was super stressful- it still is stressful- but much better now.  Anyway, when I saw the documentary, I thought maybe I could get a dog for Julia- it would be worth it.  I would even let it into the house to sleep in Julia's room and just vacuum alot.  So my hunt for the service dog started.  To my dismay, I couldn't do the Missouri one and the Northern CA group rejected us.  I even told them there were two type 1's in the house!!

I also started reading about how some dogs just naturally do it and met the former Miss America, Nicole Miller, who told me her dog does that (wasn't trained or anything)  So I started to consider just getting a dog anyway - plus, Julia really wanted one and being a 5 year old with diabetes is kind of a bummer, so perhaps this would be a good thing for her.

As it turns out, we surprised Julia and got her a golden retriever. Julia named her Goldie.  She will be two in August and well, I love this dog soooo much!!  She is sooo wonderful.  She hasn't sniffed out a low, and I don't know if she ever will (although she is super smart)  Thanfully, Julia is aware of when she has a low and is good about telling us and my husband checks her about midnight- 1 am, and I am early bird so do the early morning check. 

So I know this little story doesn't really help in your search for a service dog, but they are out there- maybe since the two years ago that I researched it, there are some other organizations that do it (my husband and Julia did run into a diabetic service dog at Disneyland for another little 8 year old, but he didn't ask them where they got it)  At this point, we are just soooo happy to have Goldie and she is a great, loving dog, and a morale booster for Julia and surprisingly for me too. 

I hope you find one for yourself.  What I do know is that they operate like service dogs for the blind in that they wear the special harness around town so people know they are "working" dogs and are allowed in public places like Disneyland, etc....

By the way, I never had a dog growing up so I just didn't get it.  Now I do, and even have pet insurance for Goldie.  

Keep us posted if you find anything.

Laura


(CrystalK) #4

Thanks so much for your email Laura!  I am in awe of you being such a great mom.  I have such a hard time myself, I can't imagine my daughter having it to!!  You are an inspiration to all of us and I'm glad that you have found Goldie!

Blessings!   Crystal

(CrystalK) #5

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the email and the info.  I also saw this site.  I do not have any other dogs and my only daughter is leaving soon for college.  I will be alone and really don't see the lows coming so this could be an option. 
Also, forgot to mention that I have the CGMS but can't use the pump right now due to scar tissue.  Also, when I was wearing it, I would still crash because of the lag time.
 I'll keep everyone posted if I find any more information on this.
Thanks!  Crystal