Rainie and I have just returned from our weekly trip to the local farmers’ market, where, as usual, we were soon greeted by a following of kids. From the distance, I heard little voices shouting, “Look Mommy! There’s a dog!” or, “Rainie! Rainie! There’s Rainie!” The kids seem to appear individually, or by swarm. After greeting them, and inviting the shy ones (including families) to come forward, I usually introduce the listeners to Rainie by giving them my short talk, that goes something like this: “You always needing to ask before you pet ANY dog, but especially a dog wearing a jacket, because that means the dogs are working, and have a special job to do and shouldn’t be interrupted.” Then the kids are allowed to do what they came to do (pet Rainie), and I’ll answer the myriad of questions that are posed – i.e.” What does Rainie do?”, “What kind of dog is she?”, “What is EAC?”, and, my favorite, “How can I find out more information about diabetic alert dogs and Early Alert Canines (which is usually asked by adults) ?”
Recently, I’ve begun offering EAC stickers to those interested, which seems to delight kids of all ages. (The little ones assume it is a picture of Rainie, and are pleased to be able to take a picture of her home.). Today, a girl of about 8 approached. She was shy as she gently knelt down and wrapped her arms around Rainie’s neck. She seemed very interested to learn about what Rainie does for me and how she was trained. She seemed to leave only because her mom was calling for her. She happily accepted a sticker, and Rainie and I proceeded on our way. Not long afterword a woman, being led by the young girl, came hurrying up to us. The mom told us that they had been searching the bustling market to find us in order to find out more about Rainie and EAC. Apparently, her daughter had given the sticker to her, told her about our conversation, and had asked if she could send the sticker to her cousin in Michigan. This cousin had been diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 7 months, and is now 3 and a half. His family is having trouble with the toddler going low at night, and has been trying to find information about diabetic alert dogs, but couldn’t find anyone willing to talk with them because the boy is so young.
After explaining that EAC does place dogs with families with young children, I, unfortunately, had to tell them that due to our being so small, and the fact that we offer life-long support to our teams, EAC must limit the placements of blood sugar alert dogs to the Western United States. The young girl then said something to the effect of: “Well, maybe other groups will learn how to teach dogs for kids from you (EAC). All we can do is keep the hope alive.”