Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Timewarp Tuesday: Pets and Diabetic Owners

Today, I've decided to repost a previous posting I did entitled "Pets and Diabetic Owners" from April 16, 2007. This posting was prompted by a conversation I had with Kerri at the DRI Diabetes 2.0 Conference this weekend (this re-post is for you)!

This weekend, while I was filing my taxes, I also re-discovered some pictures that were buried in an out-of-the-way directory location on my computer's hard drive. Since few of my readers have ever met my cat, Phyllis, I figured it was time to introduce her below:

They say that many people start to look and behave like their pets while their pets acquire similarities to their owners. I'm not completely sure about that, but see what you think about my recent photo:

Seriously, I had this photo taken at Epcot Center about 2 years ago, but have never shared it with anyone. But this post seems to be an appropriate time. Phyllis does not have type 1 diabetes, but she has served as my lookout on occasion. For example, sometimes when I have gone low while sleeping, she will jump onto me and start kneeding gently to wake me up. If that fails, she then starts with her claws very lightly. Since Phyllis' mother was Siamese, she acquired her exquisite vocal skills from that side of the family, and she will begin talking incessantly until I get up to test. Sure enough, she is usually right.

Cats aren't as easily trained as dogs, but nevertheless, they do have the keen sense of smell that their canine counterparts have. I wanted to let my readers know that there are a few organizations that will train dogs (or provide instructions for you to train your own dog) in order to wake their owners with diabetes in the event of hypoglycemia. Given the recent study that showed people with type 1 do not wake from hypoglycemia, it can be very useful (especially for people who live alone) to have a pet with this type of skill.

There are two organizations I am aware of who help people seeking dogs (so far, cats haven't been trained for the reason noted previously), and I wanted to share these with you. These organizations are as follows:

Heaven Scent Paws
An organization that provides trained diabetic alert dogs, or provides instruction on dog training so that the dog is able to detect & alert their diabetic partners and support team (parents, spouse, friend, etc) to both low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) & high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Heaven Scent Paws operates nationwide for those who are interested.

Dogs for Diabetics
An organization that provides dogs who are trained to detect hypoglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes. The organization is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and presently only offers its services locally. Their address is 1647 Willow Pass Road, #157; Concord, CA 94520-2611; e-mail: info@dogs4diabetics.com.

Finally, one of our own D-bloggers, Molly, recommended the following organization which is based in the Midwest. Her blog features more information about her experience with them and her dog. The organization's website includes info. about dogs for people with diabetes, although I did not find detail on whether they only serve a particular geographic area. Feel free to call them for more information if you're interested.

Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation
The Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation trains dogs to assist people with a variety of disabilities, including diabetes. Their mission is to assist individuals living with disability to gain greater independence and opportunity by use of trained working assistance dogs. Their address is 920 Short Street, PO Box 513, Jud, ND 58454, tel: (877) 737-8364 (toll free) or (701) 685-2290, e-mail info@greatplainsdogs.com.


Tracey said...

those in Australia check out Paws for Diabetics Inc www.pfd.org.au

MH said...

Please be careful about referring people to Heaven Scent Paws. The organization and it's owner are currently being sued by the State of Missouri on various charges and the case is awaiting trial. There are also 37 formal complaints filed against the organization.

There are some wonderful diabetic alert dog trainers out there and I hope that anybody that is looking into getting one will thoroughly check the background of any organization or trainer before committing to one.

Kerri. said...

That photo makes me grin every time. I love Phyllis, and the Phyllis/Scott hybrid is simply awesome. :)

Bob Fenton said...

Heed MH said above. It is a "buyer beware" market when considering a service dog. This means breeders and trainers and care must be taken to determine the seriousness of complaints on file. There are some excellent trainers that try to match the person and the dog. Some people are not meant to have a dog and some people do not match to a dog easily.
Also beware of the different methods of training and trainers who can't deliver the training needed. They can talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

Unknown said...

Aww. Hiiii, kittyyyyy! :)

Oh, and hi Scott-Phyllis hybrid creature!

*pettings for everyone*