I know that it’s been awhile since I’ve posted cute pictures of amazing dogs. And I am hoping to get a chance to do that this weekend. But we have a type 1 daughter that is getting older. More independent. Seeking more responsibility. Thinking she knows everything. And as a parent, letting go is already hard enough. If you have a child that has a disease like type 1 diabetes, it is even harder. And sometimes scarey as hell.

For those of you that follow along on our Facebook page, I initially posted this story last night. But I wanted to expand a little bit. There were some questions that came up. Some judgements were made. There was also a lot of agreement. I felt a little raw and exposed afterwards. So why did I post the story? Because our life isn’t just perfect numbers and gorgeous dogs. Day to day life isn’t easy. There is no formula. Sometimes things happen. Scarey things. And it is part of our story, our journey through the murky world of caring for a child with what can be a life threatening disease. And I don’t EVER want to give anyone the impression that our status quo is acceptable. We need a cure. This disease is serious. It requires constant vigilance. There is no time off. We need a cure. More »

For those that don’t know, or need a refresher, I am a father of an 11 year old type 1 girl. She is in the 5th grade, and we are about to enter our fourth year as a type 1 army. We are a family, mom, dad, daughter, son, 2 black labs, and 1 white maltiterripoo. We are all involved in my daughters diabetes care. I have mentioned here before that this disease is a family disease. We are all affected in some way, even my 5 year old son. This post refers to a question I asked as we start heading into her teen years. She is my daughter. When she gets in my car, I ask her if she has her seat belt on. (I ask my wife too). When we take her horseback riding, I make sure she has her helmet. Same thing when we go bike riding. And when she is home, we check her blood sugar. We make her dinner. And we add up her carbs for her. I remind her to eat her veggies. I ask her to pick up her shoes and socks. How long will that continue? My mom still checks on me and asks how I’m doing. She is my daughter. I will always check oh her and feel a sense of responsibility for her well being.

She is starting to get older. She is starting to take on more responsibility. She wants to be more involved with her diabetic care. We are allowing her some, but it is all supervised when we can. We are also providing her with tools that allow her to have a little more control while she is at school, like her CGM. She has a BG tester with her at all times, and she can test when ever she feels like she needs to, and she has a CGM that helps her make decisions based on the data she is seeing. But when she is home, we still handle most everything. She likes to add up her carbs, test herself, input the numbers into her meter, but we still keep an eye on what is happening. She is a child of technology, she flies through input screens, has the button pushing down to a science, so I always ask to verify, as the One Touch meter makes it real easy to fly right past 6 units of insulin, straight to 12 units.

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Earlier today on my Facebook page, I asked you what myths you hated hearing.That made you cringe. And you came through in spades. Sorry about the ugly formatting, this is a straight copy/paste from Facebook. More »

Getting on soapbox. Flame retardant gear on, I have a feeling I’m getting flamed. But I may also help save a child’s life:

Enough already. A 150 bg reading with 2 units of insulin on board is not your dog alerting to a low. You left out the part about how your child just ate 30 minutes ago, had a meal of 75 carbs, and the 2 units is working on the carbs from lunch. If the child has 2 units of IOB, YOU GAVE IT TO THEM TO COVER FOOD! We know that 2 units of insulin could drop your BG 100-200 points (depending on age/weight), but that assumes the child has NO FOOD OR CARBS in their system. If you just fed them within the last couple of hours, the IOB is working on food. Your child could very well stay at 150, or could go up or go down. In actuality, what is happening is EXACTLY the way it is supposed to work. Eat food, take insulin, insulin requires time (in our case 3 hours) to work its way through the system, all the while working on the carbs that she ate. Now if there is a BS spike (which often happens after a meal) where the BG shoots up to 200 or higher, THAT is an alert. When the dog alerts and the child is in range, but you think the dog may be right, wait 10-15 minutes and check again. If there has been a significant drop of 20-40 points, that was possibly a good, heads up alert. If they are 145, all though that is a drop, that ISN’T an alert.

And as for the “my dog alerted at 11:30 and little johnny was 135. Then I checked at 12:15 and he was 120. Then I checked at 1:30 and he was 99. Then I checked at 2:45 and he was 70. Good low doggie!”. Well, that is just ridiculous. Your dog should have been on his place, and not come to you until sometime after 2. I tell you what. I’m going to tell you to go check your child right now. I bet that sometime in the next 5 hours, they will be out of range.

Most likely, you have trained your dog that when they swipe you with a paw, you treat. They aren’t alerting, they want a treat, and you taught them a way to get one.

Here is what you need to do. Tighten up the reigns, and provide the dog with structure. Make sure they are doing a lot of place work, they are getting a lot of obedience training from you, and you are providing some scent sample games and real time training to work with the dog. But telling me your dog alerted 4 hours ago? Please. And as for that alert, why didn’t he re-alert 3 hours then 2 hours, then 1 hour, then every 15 minutes until you corrected the low?

We all love to brag about the amazing things our dogs have done. But lets be honest. We want these dogs to be accurate. If we as handlers are treating all these other things as alerts, or drag our dogs through them, or treat them every time the child is really in range after a meal, with insulin on board, or prompt/cue them to alert, then when you REALLY need it, you may not really know your dog actually is capable.

When Major or Raven alert and our daughter is 135, we don’t reward. We say “we will watch it”, and then we will check again in 15 minutes. Most likely when we check again, if it was Major, Stella will be below 80, and if it was Raven, she will be over 170 (they each have a freaky specialty of early alerting to a drop (Major) or a rise (Raven) ). What we think of as an “early” or “predictive” alert, is in reality, a real time blood sugar change that current modern medical tools can’t catch that quickly.

So please, you are expecting these dogs to be an extra safeguard for your children. But before trusting them with your child’s life, make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for disaster.

Rant over. Off soapbox.

Team Blackdogsrule

Since the day we found out Stella had diabetes, friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers have been offering up suggestions, hints, and tips that are supposed to cure my daughter. I’ve heard everything from a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day, to okra water (a new recent article making the rounds) to someone’s grandpa that got a gallon of juice in Tijuana that cured him by drinking a little each day. I honestly believe that whatever Grandpa was drinking didn’t cure him, it just made it so he didn’t care anymore 😉

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It can’t be cured by diet or exercise, there are no potions or elixirs that make it go away, and all though Prevention Magazine likes to tout that they can “prevent it”, there is no cure. My daughter’s pancreas no longer produces insulin.

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20131014-IMG_6507-EditI am calling this post “What I love about Canine Hope”, but it’s subtitle could be, “Things to look for in your own organization”.

I get asked all the time about what organizations I would recommend, what trainers are good, who should I avoid, etc. The honest truth is I’m just a father of a family that decided a service dog would be a good fit for us. And through that process, we got lucky enough to find Canine Hope for Diabetics. Since then I have been able to meet many people involved in various levels of the DAD world, from trainers, breeders, self trainers, and heads of organizations. We first contacted Canine Hope over 3 years ago, and Major has been working successfully for us since August of 2011, 2 1/2 years, and truth be told, we couldn’t be happier with our decision. Here are some of the things we love about Canine Hope, and you should consider when choosing an organization for you:

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We spend a great deal of time with dogs. Our dogs use/need things like beds, crates, harnesses, toys, training gear, leashes, collars, food, etc. We require things that are sturdy and long lasting, that work well, and that are easy to use. I will randomly post a piece/review on some of our favorite things, gear we love, products we use, etc. First up is our new Kuranda Reversible Pads.

For those of you that follow along,  we use Kuranda cots for our dogs to “place” on. It is their go to spot in the house. We have 3 of the cots, 2 in our family room, and 1 in our bedroom. We love them for lots of reasons, easy to clean, easy to move, indestructible, orthopedic, and they can be used outside.  About a year ago, we were in a contest, and won a fleece cover for one of our cots. That cot, especially in the winter and at night, is the “coveted” cot :), and normally Raven’s on it. Here is a picture of our cots, and you can see the one on the right has the pad:

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Keep Calm

Had some fun stuff recently that I wanted to make sure we shared. First up, we got a GoPro camera for Christmas, and have been working with it on the dogs to try and get some good video. I don’t think we have succeeded yet, but we are having fun 🙂

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