I have had dogs all my life. Most of the time there was more than one. Big dogs, little dogs, snuggle bugs, and crazy fools. My wife and I are both big on rescues, she works in the animal rescue world and I volunteer with a rescue group as a photographer taking pictures of dogs in a local high kill shelter to help get them adopted. We have loved them all. And then came Major… More »
We took the family to Disneyland to celebrate my son’s 8th birthday. We also took our service dog Raven with us. We had a fantastic day, and Raven was amazing. Stella did the handling all day and Raven earned her keep with several low alerts. (The excitement of the amusement park tends to burn off blood sugar)
Based on a compliment we received from another SD handler and just how crowded it was yesterday, I realized I have never discussed how important it is or what is meant by protecting your service dog while out in public.
For public access work, distractions, obedience, and crowd control work, I can’t imagine there is any place more challenging than Disneyland on a gorgeous Southern California Saturday. The park was jammed full of guests making it hard enough to traverse the park with kids, let alone a teenager handling a dog.
I love these posts, you know the ones: “We’ve only had Buster the Service Dog for 3 weeks, and already he has saved little Timmy’s life from low blood sugar 6 times! Little Timmy was 26 when Buster alerted!”. While I agree that these dogs have an amazing ability to pick up on sudden, out of the blue blood sugar issues, and it is always welcome to have another set of eye (or in this case, a nose) watching out for your child, there may be some other issue that needs to be addressed. Carb ratios, basal rates, growth hormones, puberty, illness, any number of things that might need to be looked at and considered to help your child.
From a post I did on Facebook, that I felt deserved some space on the blog: We talk a lot about the amount of training we do daily, and the structure that is required to make sure these dogs continue to work and do their jobs. I get asked a lot if these dogs ever get to be “treated like pets like most peoples dogs?” , if they get to have “fun”, if they get time off, If service dog life is a bad life or a rough life for the dogs.
Once again, my track record for bursting into tears while talking about how amazing these dogs are, and all that they do for our family, is at 100%. If you were there, it was disjointed at best, and cut short as I couldn’t get through it. I always feel bad as I struggle with these. But I will give myself 1 compliment. I am passionate about what these dogs are capable of doing, both for diabetes, and for the general well being of their families. This is what my speech was supposed to sound like:
If and when you decide a Service Dog is right for you or your family, you may already have preconceived notions of what life with that dog will look like after you get it. Perhaps your visions include watching a guide dog for the blind work, or you know someone that has a seasoned team, a handler and service dog that has been together for several years. Maybe your expectations have been set by watching my daughter and I with our dogs here on this page. And perhaps your expectations were set by an over zealous car salesman telling you exactly what you want to hear in an effort to sell you a dog.
I hear this a lot: “My child was just diagnosed last week, I want to get a DAD to help him out”. While I completely and totally understand the fear of facing this disease, the willingness to do anything to help your child, and the need for tools, medicines, and technology to make things easier, safer, and better, a DAD is not for everyone, and especially not for the newly diagnosed. More »