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

Saturday, June 27, 2015


There have been times on this journey when I've questioned Bo's ability to work in public. The time he barked at a woman as she entered the gym where we were training during a basketball practiceThe time he reacted to a cardboard box display in the aisle of the hardware store. The time he reacted to a rolling cart in the market. The time he went running and barking at a gum wrapper on the ground. The time he was whining in the hair salon and gave a false alert. I could go on naming moments on our journey when I had to resort to getting out of Dodge and trying again the next day. Those moments caused me angst and I often reached out to our trainer, Helen, seeking advice and support. Helen always reminded me that Bo was an adolescent dog and that he still had a lot of growing up and maturing to do. Give him time to grow up before you write him off as not being able to work in public was the message I would hear from her. 

How could I have ever imagined then that a day would come when he worked in public with such confidence and ease that instead of feeling all joy, I would also feel sadness. The sadness that comes with realizing your sweet pup is growing up and growing older. That day was today and it was bittersweet.

I was at the outlet mall with Bo. I had just dropped Austin off at the movies; he didn't want to keep Bo with him at the theater, so I took Bo with me to make a return. Bo had worked like a pro in the theater lobby as Austin purchased his ticket and waited for his friends to arrive. Upon leaving the theater he navigated the parking lot in a close heel and loaded into the car just as we have trained. 

When we got to the outlet mall one of the first distractions we encountered was a small child running up to us. I used my body to put space between the child and Bo and Bo kept moving without a second look at the child. We then entered the store where I was making my return. Bo waited on cue at the doorway until I gave him the command to walk with me through it. He stayed in a close heel as I walked through the store to the check-out line. As I waited in line, he made the choice to go down. When we were called to the register, he went down between the counter and my feet. He stayed there until I cued him with my body to stand and walk with me. 

We left the store and window shopped. We passed strollers, wheelchairs, a cleaning cart and even a large German Shepard who had his eyes locked on Bo. Despite these distractions Bo walked at my side with a loose leash and remained focused on me the entire time. I stopped and he stopped. I stopped and lingered and he stopped and sat at my side. I sat at a cafe table; he went under it and stayed down at my feet. I sat on a mall bench and he laid under it. We encountered a family with young children exiting a storefront and upon hearing my command to wait he stopped immediately -- allowing me to put space between them and us. (If the children were inclined to approach Bo, the space would provide me time to move away.) 

He worked calmly and with confidence the entire time we were out. When we returned to the movie theater to pick-up Austin, as we were waiting in the car, a woman getting out of her car began looking and talking to Bo through the car window. Bo just sat and looked at her with no angst or excitement -- just a calm observation. 

There is no question our pup is maturing and as exciting as it is to see him do the work we've been training him to do, it's also sad to see him grow up. Like Helen says, "They aren't puppies for long. The nipping and potty training and chewing will pass and they need training and guidance but in the end, you will miss the craziness."