We began our vast research of the organizations that train D.A.D's and their cost/requirements. We quickly found that there were very few places that would place a dog with us because J was not of an age to be the handler of the dog. Then we came across Warren Retrievers! http://www.sdwr.org./
Let me just preface with this.....if you've heard about this organization from hear say or if you have read the articles online, all I have to say is.... "Don't believe everything that you hear and read." My husband comes from a Law Enforcement background and knows how to investigate people and organizations and we took full advantage of those skills during this process. We've seen the articles and were contacted on numerous occasions by the group of individuals trying to taint the image of SDWR because of their "bad experiences". After many discussions with SDWR and also speaking with multiple families who have SDWR Diabetic Alert Dog's both across the country and locally, we came to the conclusion that this was an AMAZING organization!
Needless to say we were officially put on the wait list....yes, a wait list for our Diabetic Alert Dog in February 2013. Just one month after J's diagnosis and 8 short months later we got Hope the Wonder Dog!!!
Hope came to us at the age of 4 months. We chose to go with a puppy because of the age of our children and we also have another dog. We figured that bonding with the family would be better at an early age and since you have to learn the training whether you get a dog that is 2 years old or 2 months old, this was just the best choice for our family.
At just 4 months old, Hope was already scent trained, potty trained and knew basic obedience(Sit, Stay, Down, etc). At Hope's delivery we spent 4 days with a trainer. We learned Hope's natural and trained alerts to High and Low blood sugars, how to continue to advance her training for both diabetic alerting and public access. Right from the start we were completely amazed at her alerting and what an amazing dog she is with the children and in public. Now, of course this is a puppy that we are talking about. She had accidents in the house, chewed up things that weren't her toys and is still learning and growing every day just like a normal puppy. Diabetic Alert Dog's are not a full proof method of managing your diabetes, but nothing in this little world is, she is simply another tool to help save our son's life.
Yes, Diabetic Alert Dog's work! Yes, she can smell his High and Low blood sugar changes! Yes, she can be 20-30 minutes AHEAD of a blood glucose meter and continuous glucose monitor! Yes, she goes out in public and alerts to other diabetics! Yes, she really is that amazing and YES, she is totally worth the work and money!
Having a Diabetic Alert Dog is not easy, it takes a lot of time and effort and it is not for every family. However, if you've never seen a D.A.D in action then I urge you to reach out and find one in your area. I promise, you will be amazed and you will quickly find yourself waiting for your D.A.D to arrive to start saving your T1D's life one "paw" at a time!
-Until there's a cure, there's a dog!
Our local SDWR Diabetic Alert Dog families and Trainer
Joseph and Hope are on the left :)