This is Major. He is a Diabetic Alert Dog, my daughter’s service dog. He was matched with our family back in October of 2011. This is the only other man (aside from me & my son) that my daughter is allowed to love 🙂
This post is designed to help you learn a little more about our DAD’s and their individual strengths and weaknesses. Just like you and I, these dogs have their own personalities. If you have a service dog, or are in the process of getting one, considering one etc, it is very important to understand that each dog is different, and will require some molding both of you, and of the dog, to fit into your life style.
The above picture was taken the very first time we met Major. It was love at first sight for my daughter. They have been attached at the hip ever since.
Major had a rough start in life. He was initially with a gun dog trainer, learning to be a hunting dog. But he had a flaw. It seems he would fetch the birds roughly and crush them. So, because of that he was beaten and forced to live in an animal control truck kennel for 23 hours a day. He also wore a shock collar, and his neck has lost a lot of sensitivity (which is why you will often see him with a pinch on, making him easier to control for a 10 year old girl). When our trainer from Canine Hope for Diabetics got the call to go get him, he was 35 pounds, and his fur was covered and stained with urine. He has calluses on his elbows because he had to lay in the kennel and couldn’t move/stand/turn around.
Our trainer saw something in this dog, and whisked him away. We are forever thankful. This dog pays it forward. Every. Single. Day.
Major is a pure bred black Labrador. He is what would be referred to as a “field” lab, with a longer, slimmer snout and a slightly smaller build. Bred to be out in the fields all day. He just turned 3 on 12/17.
He keeps a watch over my daughter all day, and when we go out as a family, he insists on keeping an eye on both kids. He always needs to know where they are.
Major has many strengths. He is a rock solid alerter out in public. It all most seems like the more hectic and crazy a location is (think grade school recess or Disneyland), or the more different scents floating around (think a Halloween BBQ with corn popping, catering trucks, pumpkin pies, or a diabetic event with many diabetics) the better he gets. He handles the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, the mall, an amusement park, or the quiet nature of a dinner at a restaurant equally well. His obedience is amazing, and most of the time, he is being handled by a 10 year old girl.
Due to Major’s background, he does have some “quirks” that we have had to work around. Major is a very sensitive dog. When you live in a house with 2 kids and 4 dogs (we also have 2 pet dogs) things get loud. When voices get raised, or the kids are running around screaming, Major wants to hang out under the dining room table. I’d imagine he was yelled at a lot in his past life. On the flip side of that, Major loves to snuggle, and will lay still for hours while my daughter uses him as a pillow or blanket. It has helped create an amazing bond between these 2.
Major also doesn’t alert at night or in the car. He is “day shift” only. We conceded the car early on, knowing that, all though he loves to go places and has no problem getting in the car, the truck he was on probably represents some stress/fear for him. We spent a lot of time working on night training, but in a year, we were never able to work out a scenario that got him alerting, which is why we have added Raven to the team.
Major is an athlete. He loves to always be doing something. He excels at everything! He is an amazing runner, swimmer, jumper, etc. He is my favorite running buddy, and we quite often will log 30 mile weeks together. He has run as many as 16 miles at once with me. We run 5 times a week most weeks. He is helping me train and get faster for the upcoming LA Marathon. When I grow up, I want to be as ripped as he is 🙂
When it comes to athletic events, Major has no fear. He will try everything!
But one of his favorite past times is following a little green ball into some water. He will follow that ball into the surf, off the side of a 40 foot dock, into a swamp, or off the side of a pool.
Major has proven himself time and time again to be unflappable. His focus is always on his family (or that little green ball). When at the dog beach, there will be hundreds of dogs coming up and checking him out. He ignores them all
But what makes this dog the most special is his life saving abilities. In December of 2011, we went out to get our Christmas tree. On the way home, we stopped at McDonalds to bring home dinner. We had Christmas tunes playing, the kids were eating their Happy Meals, and we were decorating the tree. Stella and Dash were laughing, dancing, singing and having a great time. Shortly after this, Major alerted. Normally, after a meal, the diabetic’s blood sugar level will rise as the insulin starts working. So we assumed she was high, but as a responsible DAD user, when the dog alerts, you verify with a meter check.
When we checked Stella, she was under 100. That was VERY odd, as normally she would be heading up towards 200 after dinner. And she appeared to be in great spirits. Major alerted again, and she was under 70. So we started to give her some juice in an effort to keep her BS (blood sugar) up. Major continued to alert, and we continued to keep her pumped with carbs. Then she laid down on the couch. And approximately 45 minutes after that first alert (keeping in mind she was acting FINE, and she had just eaten, so without Major alerting, we would never have checked her until she laid down) she started to throw up. She had the stomach flu. At that point, we call our endo’s nurse and have her walk us through. Stella’s BS is still plummeting, and now she can’t keep carbs in. BS readings of 60, then 50, then 40, then off to ER to be hooked up to a glucose drip and anti nausea medicine. That amazing dog gave 2 rookie type 1 parents a 45 minute to 1 hour head start. I honestly believe he helped us avoid a coma. He saved our little girl’s life that day. This little dog that someone else threw away like a piece of trash.
We spent 4 days in the hospital after that. And Major was there to support his girl the whole time. He and I spent 3 nights in that room with her. He wouldn’t leave her side, and the nurses LOVED having him there.
So there you have it. Way more then you ever wanted to know about someone else’s dog. But he is our DAD. He protects our family and helps keep us all healthy. We love him. He is family. He earns every last piece of kibble, and will ALWAYS have a roof over his head and a warm place to sleep. And to all of the people at Canine Hope, Crystal, Johanna, Ashley, Stefanie, Tracy, Jessica, and Melissa, thank you. Your love and faith in this little guy has changed our lives. I can never express to you what Major means to our family.