8499608976_c994845dbc_bFresh off the heels of yesterday’s post about setting your dog up for success, comes this story from last night. Not only is it important to pattern your day for success, I can’t reiterate how important it is to know your dog, and learn their activity/sleep patterns. We have learned that Raven sleeps heaviest from 11-1 every night, and won’t alert between those times.

Once you learn that, it becomes okay and you work with it. Case in point: We check Stella when we go to bed at 10 every night(last night she was 155, a good number for sleep) and Laurie sets an alarm for 12 and 3 to check her, and then we all get up at 5:30 and she gets checked again. Yes, we check her 3 times in her sleep each and every night even though we have a dog.


At midnight, when Laurie checked on her, we had a random, out of nowhere 356! At 10 pm she was 155. Raven didn’t alert, she was asleep. Then, at 1:12 am, Raven woke me up and alerted to a high. (she comes out of her sleep cycle around 1am every night, like clock work) Laurie bolused her at midnight and her BS was on the way down, but she was still in the 200’s. Good girl Raven. It took the rest of the night to bring her down, and it wasn’t until we checked at 6 am for her breakfast that she was back in the 140’s. Raven alerted and was agitated all night.


Just because we have a dog that alerts at night DOES NOT MEAN that we no longer check. It means that we have a back-up security system in case we forget to set an alarm, or sleep through an alarm, or we get a random issue between alarms. Raven has caught the pump alarm going off after a battery died, she has alerted and we noticed that the pump was not reconnected after a shower, we have checked at 12 and Stella has been in range, and an hour later Raven will alert to an 80 or a 190. Raven has alerted, and we have realized that we truly have slept through alarms, or turned them off, but fell right back to sleep. But Raven is not a parent, and ultimately, she and Major are not responsible for Stella. They are there to assist us, mom and dad. And they have good days and bad days just like us.


What these dogs provide to us on a daily basis is an almost uncanny sense to alert at times when we wouldn’t even think there could be an issue. Like an hour after a meal and they alert to a low while we are in the pool. Or a rock solid day of 120’s-140’s and they alert to a random 225. Or they alert and Stella’s meter says she is 115, but 10 minutes later she is 70. While we are waiting in line at Disneyland. Or at the midway point of a movie. While reading at the library. Because of these dogs, we are checking our daughter more often than most. Because of that, we are able to make smaller adjustments more often, leading to smoother and faster BS changes, than big adjustments leading to crazy swings that can really affect mood and general wellness. This also leads to better A1c levels, a very important marker in diabetes management. We have seen great improvement in that area.

We hear an awful lot of people say that the number 1 reason they want a DAD is so they can sleep through the night. Wow, what a scary thing to hear. I would no sooner leave my child alone in the front yard playing by the curb with just my dog watching him and expect the dog to keep them safe from getting hit by a car or a stranger grabbing them. Why would I entrust my daughter’s health during the scariest time of day for a parent of a type 1 to a dog? The dog is a tool, a very valuable tool, that we use to help US manage our daughter’s diabetes. One of several tools, like her pump, her meter, and hopefully soon a CGM. As a parent of a child with a disease, I want every tool I can get my hands on to help us keep her safe. But the responsibility will always be ours. That point gets driven home when you are dealing with a scary low your dog alerted to, and as your trying to fix it and stay calm, your dog is wagging it’s tail and excited because he gets treats. Because for the dog, a low event is a party. For mom and dad? It’s a sad reality check…

Team Blackdogsrule

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  1. Johanna DeGidio Reynolds

    Thank you reiterating that our DADs are NOT the cure-all for diabetes nor are they an “out” for nighttime checks. They do help us catch fluctuations before they get out of hand and potentially lead to irreversible damage, but they don’t take the place of diligence or regular testing. We commonly hear parents say they can’t wait to finally get a full night’s sleep, when oftentimes, having a DAD means having to wake up one or two additional times during the night, many times to test and discover a low that could have become catastrophic had we waited for the next alarm clock setting or scheduled check. Thanks for sharing what a “normal” night in a DAD-assisted T1 household truly is.

  2. We just got out DAD a week ago. And we agree just another tool to fight diabetes…sleep its for wussies! We check 3+ times a night. More while training go tells. 🙂

  3. We would love to get a DAD and not so we (well I) can sleep through the night but because there are nights, like last night where I don’t even hear the alarm at all! Luckily everything turned out okay- THIS TIME 🙁

    • Frank Wisneski

      That is the perfect reason Tracy. As a back up to you, the responsible adult, in case something gets missed.

  4. Pingback: Once Again Thankful For Our DAD’s | Black Dogs Rule