The story of a boy living with Type 1 and his family's journey to raise and train a diabetic alert dog.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Look How Much Bo's Grown!

An older, bigger version of Bo.
 It's been two weeks since the last blog post and just look how Bo has grown!

Okay, I'm kidding. This isn't Bo but rather an older, bigger one of his kind. Our fun-spirited neighbors, Gil and Syl, sent us this photo last week. They took Bo in as their own, while we spent the week at Disney for Pop Warner's SuperBowl 56. (Austin and his football teammates won the NE regional title and advanced to the national competition in Orlando, FL.) The decision to leave Bo behind, while we took Austin on this once in a lifetime trip, weighed heavy on me. However, the experience taught me that in Diabetes Alert Dog (D.A.D) training, like in life, things happen that are not part of the plan.

Suspending Bo's training for six days was definitely not something I planned for, or even considered, when I began my journey to train a D.A.D for Austin. In fact it was so far from my plan, the reality of it left me feeling guilty for wavering on the promise I made to myself to commit 100% to all that was involved in training Bo. I also felt uneasy about leaving him behind even though in my heart I knew it would be best for him. (He is definitely not ready for commercial airline travel or hotel accommodations.) The angst I felt left me seeking advice from other experienced D.A.D trainers.

"I totally get your overwhelming sense of panic," said one trainer. "You will come back and pick-up your training plan and begin afresh. You might have to back up a little with your criteria/maybe asking less duration or distance or distractions on any given task, but you and Bo will quickly progress right back to where you left off. And, you might find that Bo is refreshed by the break and enjoys a little latent learning."

"Refreshed by the break," really? I never even considered our smart, little learner may appreciate a day, let alone a week, off. Oh, the comfort these words brought to me. It was going to be okay. Putting Bo's training aside wasn't the ideal situation but nor was it the end of the world. Hearing these words from someone who was invested in training like I was, was just the reassurance I needed.

Bo in his down while Gil is eating.
We missed Bo every day we were gone and we imagined what his reaction would be once we returned. We joked about how he might be having so much fun at Gil and Syl's house that he may not want to leave. Each day, we looked forward to Syl's updates and pictures with anticipation and delight. We felt pride when we heard that he learned something new, like giving his paw to shake, and we felt sorry when we heard he caught conjunctivitis or was asked to leave puppy play group. (Note: He redeemed himself today at play group.) We did not take Bo with us physically but he was always with us in our hearts and in our minds.

His daily training has resumed and I'm feeling refreshed! I think Bo is too. Ten minutes following the completion of a successdul target training session, Bo returned to the target I had left taped to the wall, only to touch his nose to the target spot and look at me. Now that's what I call a sign of being refreshed and ready to learn more!


  1. Hello Jenn, I've been doing some internet research on DAD's and stumbled upon your blog. What I've read so far is very inspiring!

    I'd love an opportunity to chat/email with you. I have a Type 1 son, ll years old (diagnosed @ 5), and have been hoping to eventually find time to commit to finding or raising a dog for Alex. Any resources you could share with me would be so very much appreciated. I would love information regarding where to start, where to find the type of dog needed, ect,.

    Thanks! Betsy

  2. Hi Betsy,

    It's very exciting to hear you are considering training a D.A.D. for your son. We are in the early phases of our journey, so we are still learning ourselves. However, it would be my pleasure to share with you where we started and what we've learned so far. If you'd like, send me a private message on Facebook and I will reply with my contact information. To find me on Facebook, search "Jennifer Breton Dearborn."

    Thanks again for leaving a comment.

  3. Hi Jenn,

    I recently sent you a FB message. We are "expecting" to receive our puppy this Monday. She'll be 8 weeks when she arrives. We are so very excited to begin this journey!

    I'm so happy to see how well your training is going and also very inspired by your level of consistency in your commitment. It's also nice to see that you work outside the home as do I. I am hoping that I will successfully manage to fit it all in.

    Thanks for sharing your experience here. Not only is it encouraging, but it heartwarming to be reminded of what a mother is capable of for the sake of her child.

    Hope to connect with you soon!


  4. Hi Betsy,

    That's wonderful news! I wish you the best on your journey to raise a D.A.D for your son. I look forward to connecting by phone.