20131014-IMG_6507-EditThis past weekend was the Canine Hope for Diabetics “Diabetic Alert Dog” conference. I had a previous engagement in Jacksonville, so I missed the first night and part of the next day. But there was no way I was going to miss any more than I had to. I woke up in Jacksonville at 1 am local time, headed to the airport, landed in Ontario at 11:30, drove home, swapped out suitcases, grabbed Stella and Major, and headed up to Camp Conrad-Chinnock. I got there at 2pm.

There are few things I love more than meeting up with these amazing families, seeing how well their dogs are doing, and meeting new families. When I first got there, to say I was exhausted and out of it would be an understatement. It took me a little while to get in the grove. As soon as we got there, several of Stella’s friends swooped in and took her off to go play. The mountains were gorgeous, there was a crispness in the air, and I saw some friends that I hadn’t seen since Mississippi earlier this year.

20131014-IMG_6746Each family/dog handler gets assigned to a group that gets to attend each trainer session. This time it was based on experience level. I missed 2 or 3 sessions because we arrived late, which was a bummer. I’m sure I won’t miss a thing next time. I did get to sit in on Diana’s session of retreiver games, and Major got to show off some of his scenting/retriever skills, and we got to watch the amazing Willow work. I love to watch Willow and her family, Laurie and Adam work with her. So inspiring. They have done amazing work and continue to do so.

20131013-IMG_6425During one of the group sessions in the dining hall, Major alerted. Stella was out with the other kids playing on the side of the mountain, so I excused myself to go find her. She was 62. This happened multiple times throughout the time we were there. It seems really funny, but with the exception of a couple of teams, Major and Stella are getting to be the wise old elders. It is awesome to watch the seasoned teams work, the bond, the experience, the training, the way the dog has been integrated into the family, it is really quite an accomplishment. See, there is a stat that says that most DAD’s work for less than a year, and then they are just a pet. I’d imagine most of the reason lies with the family just not realizing how much work needs to take place. That’s why every chance I get to talk to families looking into DAD’s, it is the first thing I tell them.

20131014-IMG_6460 20131014-IMG_6452Stella and I had a long night in our cabin. I forgot to adjust her basal rates to account for the altitude. We were at 6800 feet, and she requires much less insulin. So she was at 80 or below at every check. She had 2 juice boxes and a Gatorade to keep her in range.

20131014-IMG_6442Day 2 for me consisted of sitting in on a great session about puppy training from Diana again with Assertive K-9, and a hilarious/informative video she put together here. Next up we had a session on diabetes management. And then I got to sit in on a session with experienced teams, where we could ask questions based on individual team needs. And then it happened again. Major alerted. I ran out to check on her. Once again, she was 66. Gatorade! 20 minutes later, Major alerted again. 72! Another juice box. It went on like that for awhile. I truly love this dog.

One of my hi-lights of the weekend was being able to get some pictures of some of the people at the conference. Here are some of my favorites

20131014-IMG_7220 20131014-IMG_6554-Edit 20131014-IMG_6877-Edit 20131014-IMG_664620131014-IMG_6515 20131014-IMG_6554-Edit 20131014-IMG_6601 20131014-IMG_6757 20131014-IMG_6909 20131014-IMG_6953 20131014-IMG_6968 20131014-IMG_6988 20131014-IMG_7036 20131014-IMG_7151I left the mountains more committed than ever to make this team stronger. More amazing. To keep working to make these dogs better. Even more awesome. I continue to learn more. To tweak things. To add new components.

And in case anyone wonders why we do all of this, the pictures below tell the story. It’s all about these kids. The faces of type 1. And a couple of very supportive siblings. And not a single one of them has a “whoa is me look”. It was laughter and smiling all weekend.

20131014-IMG_7177 20131014-IMG_7184 20131014-IMG_7189My take away from this conference is that my team will only get better. Through constant, consistent work, the time and experience will continue to help Major and Raven flourish. That our team is like fine wine, and is only going to get better with age.

Team Blackdogsrule

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. All those gorgeous puppies!

  2. Laurie Schwartz

    I am just so very honored and grateful. Truly touched by being included. Thank you…

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