I am pleased to share Early Alert Canine’s first edition of “The Scentinel”.
Posts tagged ‘Not-for-Profits’
Yesterday’s graduation of Early Alert Canine’s initial class was one of great joy, pride, and a sense of accomplishment!. This ceremony was also the culminating moment of the past 20 months spent planning and fundraising to make our dream of creating a non-profit, diabetic alert dog training organization come true.
The graduating class included four “full access diabetic alert dogs” placed with adults and one “skilled companion diabetic alert dog” that was placed with a 6-year-old and his family. Our dog-teams, comprised of a diabetic and a low blood sugar alert dog, came from their homes in Oregon, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Friends, family, and the dogs’ breeders and trainers were a few of the 120 people joining in the celebration. We shared a true sense of excitement.
I wish there were a way I could capture the sentiments expressed by the graduates as they symbolically received their dogs from each one’s puppy-raisers, or breeders. The speeches were both funny (as we heard about the idiosyncrasy of the dogs’ and new owners’ personalities), and touchingly heart-felt as the new graduates described how the dogs have already changed their lives. Here is an example of the sorts of things that were said:
- She (the dog) has helped me to relate to my diabetes in a new way.
- She has brought a new stability into my life, both in my private life, and in my diabetes.
- I’m no longer afraid to be alone.
- He alerted my husband when I was in the hospital and my blood sugar was dropping.
- “There’s somebody else in the house looking out (for my son) for me.” This was said in tears of gratitude.
- My kids come and bug me because the dog goes to get them when I’m ignoring his alerting.
- “I’ve learned so much about me!”
- His alerting is so much earlier than my meter.
- Often I don’t know I’m going low until he alerts me.
- I feel so much safer.
- I don’t feel alone anymore.
- I always have company.
- I never knew a dog would help so much, or, make such a difference.
- My blood sugar is in better control.
- I’m happier.
- And: Her favorite thing in the world is her “chuck-it ball”. I think she just keeps me around to throw it for her!
I have a funny feeling that each of us with a diabetic alert dog was relating to every story, tear and feeling. These dogs touch our lives in ways that are so profound, yet difficult to put into words – how you describe a feeling? To no longer live in fear, or shame, or isolation is a gift, as is living one’s life fuller, with a greater sense of ease, safety and peace of mind.
I am truly proud to be one of the workers and dreamers, and to watch EAC mature to the point of fulfilling its goal of training and placing these life saving dogs. I had once asked Carol Edwards, our executive director and lead trainer, why she has dedicated her life to training diabetic alert dogs? Her response was stated very simply, “…because of the positive impact they have on a diabetic’s life.”
Congratulations to all our new graduates! And may EAC’s dream continue to grow.
We got to the farmers’ market earlier than usual, so the regular crowd wasn’t there. However, a ‘Daisy Troop’ was out really early to sell their cookies, and ask lots of questions about Rainie. Here are just a few:
“What is an Early Alert Canine?” I told them that she is a service dog that helps me with a medical condition called diabetes.
“I have a friend who’s 5 with diabetes. Can she get a dog like this one?” I told her that Early Alert Canines trains and gives the dogs to children and adults who are diabetic and have to take insulin.
“She’s got a pump. Is that the same thing?” Answer – Yes. That’s one way she can get her insulin.
“How much do they cost?” (Leave it to a child to ask this question so tactfully.) I explained how EAC doesn’t charge anything for the dogs.
“You mean they’re FREE! Can I get one?” She was so earnest. I explained that dogs like Rainie are specially trained for people with diabetes and that I hoped she would stay healthy and gets a pet dog someday.
At this point, one of the moms stepped in and stopped the conversation – they had customers.
This reminds me of my training and all the "firsts" that Rainie and I have had. Initially there was a week of classroom training where we were introduced to topics such as dog behavior, the basics of handling a dog in public, and dog first aid, as well as learning what an alert may look like, and how to reward the dog when they do alert. And finally, toward the end of the week we were finally matched with the dog we’d each go home with (in my case, this was Rainie). The second week we spent actually going out in public under the trainers’ watchful eyes, where we got to get used to actually dealing with a dog in public places such as restaurants, parks, shopping, pubic transit, etc. It was all very exciting!
However, the most amazing things began to happen over time as Rainie and I got to know each other, and as we began, experiencing our ‘first alerts’. The first one she gave me (while we were not in the classroom) was when she poked her head through the shower curtain as I was showering at the hotel. What a joy and surprise! And from there, the list of ‘firsts’ go on: in a restaurant, on a walk, while shopping, at a movie, in every room of the house, while working in the garden, on an airplane, while giving a lecture on what a diabetic alert dog is, etc.,etc. The list continues to grow…
I truly wish the best for the new teams that begin their training today! Their lives will never be the same.