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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

One Dog, Two Homes

Bo with Syl and Gil at their home.
Bo has two homes and two families that love him as their own. He has our family of three and he has our neighbors, Gil and Syl. Ever since Bo was 10-weeks-old, he has been spending his days at Gil and Syl's house while we spend ours at work and school. At their house, he socializes, plays, exercises and naps all while getting a lot of love and attention. We have referred to Gil and Syl's house as Bo's vacation home because of the pure joy and excitement he exudes every time he goes there.

I'm certain our journey with Bo wouldn't be what it is today if it weren't for Gil and Syl taking him during the day and nurturing his development. They have provided him countless socialization opportunities, practiced and reinforced trained behaviors, supported his DAD training and provided me with guidance and support on dog ownership. They have been a major part of the village it has taken to raise and train our pup.

In Bo's first year, Syl attended our private training sessions with Helen. In doing so, she was able to maintain training consistency between our house and theirs. She has also educated me on many things I didn't know. For example, I had Bo micro-chipped but I never had an ID tag made for his collar until Syl mentioned it to me. She has also identified minor illnesses and injury at early onset that I had missed -- things like conjunctivitis and a cut paw pad. I think she was even the person who told me about the need to register Bo with the Town Clerk's office. (Crazy! Here I am on a journey to raise a service dog and I had totally missed Dog Ownershp 101. Thankfully, Syl held my hand along the way and got me up to speed.)

Bo's time at Gil and Syl's house has provided exposures to many new people and provided countless socialization opportunities. Delivery men, repair men, family members and friends -- all giving Bo the opportunity to practice greeting people with manners and learning strangers can be nice people. Their house has also provided the opportunity for Bo to perform the work we've been training him to do -- alert on low and high blood sugar. This is because one of Syl's friends who visits her daily, lives with Type 1 Diabetes. Her name is Ellen. Bo was not trained to alert on her, it's just something he began doing on his own. Ellen has graciously accepted Bo's invitation to work for her.  Each time he alerts, she checks her blood sugar and follows our process for rewarding and reinforcing his alerts. These positive and reinforcing experiences combined with the huge amount of love Bo receives from Gil and Syl and all their friends and family has helped us raise a happy, healthy, smart, sweet dog. 

So, you're thinking WOW, right? I know! We are incredibly fortunate and blessed to live next door to the most wonderful two people a family could ever ask for. We are also incredibly grateful for the wonderful gift and opportunity to share one dog between two families. Syl once described the circumstances of our mutual situation something like this: 'You needed someone to take care of your pup, while we needed a pup to take care of.' I never could have imagined such a perfect arrangement and I'm grateful for it every single day. Our pup lives a great life at his two homes and with his two families, and we wouldn't have it any other way. :)

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