Have you ever had that feeling from deep within that you know you are helping to create something magical? This feeling truly came to light for me this past Saturday at the Early Alert Canines’ “1st Annual 2-4-1 Walk” (2 feet, 4 paws, 1 cause!). About 75 people, escorted by 15 dogs, came together as a community to share their support for EAC, and show their enthusiasm for training diabetic alert dogs.
As we walked around the small lake, admiring the fountain and enjoying the sunshine, we talked. Here are a few of the stories that were shared with me:
Lalu, a very vocal black lab-golden mix that was teamed with her young (about 6 year-old) partner and her family in April, alerted from across the gym as the little girl’s blood sugar sky-rocketed while she was performing on the uneven parallel bars at a gymnastics event. This was somewhat embarrassing since Lalu’s vocal volume increases with the intensity of her alerting.
Again, Lalu, who is terrified by water, alerted while her young charge was swimming. Lalu’s alert for dropping blood sugar is to raise her paw and touch. As Lalu was alerting, she was walking toward the pool on three legs as she kept her ‘alerting’ paw raised, calling the whole time.
Jedi, was also placed with his new family in April (his young diabetic responsibility is 7). He is the classroom’s favorite ‘visitor’ each day he is bought to work there with his new ‘mom’. Apparently, all the kids were incredibly disappointed when “Just the Mom!” came on their field trip to the zoo, with no Jedi. (Bringing a service dog to the zoo might evoke the “pray instincts” in the caged animals. It is recommended they not be taken to places with wild animals – even caged.)
Both Jedi’s and Lalu’s ‘parents’ expressed how much comfort is having the dogs. They said there are no words to express what it’s like to have another set of eyes (or nose in this case) looking over their diabetic children. And the peace of mind knowing they’ll be told about potential problems before a true emergence happens, even if it means being awakened at night, is a great relief.
On a different note, it was great to hear that one of the EAC trainers is making an ‘office-call’ to try to help resolve an alerting issue that is arising at someone’s work.
Even us “old –times” shared stories of our own: my dog, Rainie, alerting me while on the beach; and the quiet assurance provided by Norm to his T1D ‘dad’ who lives alone. And Jason, is full of stories of how “Eli” alerts him while he’s traveling for work – regardless if it’s on a plane, in a restaurant or hotel, etc. And, yes, Eli even alerts at home and in the car.
It was an incredible honor/pleasure/moment-of-pride for me to see so much participation and enthusiasm for what EAC does. I want to thank our ‘new recruits’ (dogs in the process of being scent trained), the families fostering them, the newly placed teams, the training/office staff, us “old-timers” and everyone else who have ever supported EAC or donated to our fundraiser. I hope that everyone realizes that you, too, are helping to create some magic.