Major and I attended a JDRF sponsored coffee chat last night. It’s an event where a small group of parents meet without the kids to discuss whatever happens to come up. Last night there was 10-12 parents, and, surprisingly enough, after only 3 short years with our daughter’s diagnosis, I was one of the more “experienced” parents.
Most of the parents i met last night (there were a couple of exceptions) were diagnosed not long ago at all, November, and 1 as recently as 3 weeks ago. I applaud these families. When we first got our diagnosis, I feel like my wife and I huddled in a cave and didn’t come out for a year, so kudos to these families for seeking a support group!
I took Major with me, even though I wasn’t taking Stella. So why take a service dog if there is no need? There are 2 purposes. First, it’s great public access training. Actually, EVERYTHING is a training opportunity, but knowing that there is no diabetic, and therefore no need to alert, we use the opportunity to train in public. A crowded coffee shop, with all the people coming in and out, all the smells, the danish crumbs, and the like, and the requirement to lay quietly under the table for about 90 minutes is an excellent place to practice manners. Major excels in this scenario. So why keep practicing? Because good training, even when a behavior is solid, is still good training. It helps breed confidence in the handler and the dog. The training never stops, and repetitive training reinforces behaviors.
Secondly, Major is an amazing ambassador. And it still amazes me when someone I have never met before walks up and says: “oh my gosh, is this Major? I know him!”. I get a big kick out of that. And at a diabetic event like this, there are a lot of people that don’t know these dogs exist, or have never seen one in person, so it’s a great opportunity for me to advocate and educate, both for the DAD’s and for Canine Hope. And in case you haven’t met me or seen my Facebook page, I love to talk about these amazing animals and the phenomenal support we get from Canine Hope (which, sad to say, isn’t always the case)
It’s always a weird feeling at these get togethers when you’re meeting new people for the first time. As a more “seasoned” member, when I meet these new families, I never know whether to meet them with a huge smile and a “welcome to the club!” or a hug and something along the lines of condolences, as we are all there because we have a child with type 1 diabetes. But as is always the case, I meet wonderful people that are amazingly supportive of each other. We had a great time last night. As a matter of fact, I signed up to take some training in the JDRF mentor program next month. I don’t quite know yet what all that will entail, but I am looking forward to being even more immersed in doing what ever I can.
The images I’ve used here have absolutely nothing to do with coffee, the JDRF, or last night. I just wanted to post some more pictures of Major 🙂