Rainie and Mike
This post isn’t about diabetes, or diabetes alert dogs. This is a story about Rainie going to the beach on a foggy, 4th of July morning and lifting the spirits of a very sad yellow Lab named Mike. His parents told us he was in deep mourning because his two ‘canine brothers’ had to be put to sleep – one was 12, and the other 13, and both of them failed within 4 days of each mother. (Mike’s human mother was in tears relating the story.)
It was phenomenal to watch Rainie, although much younger and faster than Mike, run into the water after the stick, then proceed to push it toward Mike, and let him carry it back to shore. His parents said he’d been unable to do anything but mope for the past 10 days. Playing with Rainie was the first time he’d perked-up and shown any enthusiasm about life.
Rainie and Molly at the Beach
The other night my husband and I, and Rainie too, went out for dinner at our favorite local restaurant, which is also frequented by the firefighters who’s station is just down the street. I wish I’d had a camera to take a picture of the three firefighters, still in their work gear, bending down around Rainie for some impromptu Rainie-love. Although I’ve talked to a couple of firefighters before, I guess I’d never talked to this crew. They were full of questions since they’d never heard of a “Diabetic Alert Dog” before. They were incredulous that she can smell my blood sugar changing. One said he was surprised that she hadn’t been trained to ‘ring a buzzer’ that would call for emergency help, but, instead, has been trained to alert me so I can take care of myself long before I need help from anyone else. They asked for some business cards
so they can find out more (and possibly have me come and lecture). I found out that one of the most frequent emergency calls they get is to take care of someone who has become combative or lost consciousness due to low blood sugar.
One firefighter asked, “Has she ever saved your life?” I think she may have, at least once. The most incredible alert she ever gave me happened when she and I were walking on the beach with Rainie’s friend, Molly, and my friend, Sally. We had been walking for about 40 minutes when Rainie came and started dancing around me. Usually she alerts by nudging my hand first, then does her dance later. I was feeling fine, but did my blood sugar anyway. The reading was 135 – perfectly normal, so we kept walking. But Rainie wouldn’t stop her dancing and jumping. We had only gone about 5 minutes further when Sally said that I’d better test again since Rainie was trying to tell me something. Still, I was feeling fine, but Rainie was going crazy! We stopped, and I tested. The meter read 84. Usually his number would be all right if I weren’t walking; and I was dropping way too fast – 41 points in about 5 minutes! Way too fast! I reached into my pocket for some glucose or some sort of candy, but all of my pockets were empty. I asked Sally if she had anything to eat, but she didn’t. I told her we needed to turn around and get back to the car. I was still feeling ok, but I knew this was not a good situation. On the way to the car, I asked every person we met if they had some candy, but no one did. When we got to the car (where we couldn’t find my glucose bottle either), my blood sugar tested at 31. This is dangerously low! Now I was feeling shaky and was wet with perspiration. Sally quickly drove to the nearest store while I kept talking the whole time. When we got there, my meter read “low”, (too low to read). I don’t even remember what she bought me to drink; but I do remember that Rainie stayed in my lap, licking my face, and possibly keeping me from going unconscious.