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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

What It's Like Working Bo at School

Bo and Austin during free time.
Guest post from Austin: 
Bo as many of you know has been attending school with me for a bit over a month now and let me say it has been one of the best months in my life. Bo is up there with some of the best things to come into my life. He works everyday all day, he get few breaks and still alerts and performs exceptionally. As I grow older and older the feeling I get when high or low fade and I find it increasingly harder to tell the difference between normal and low. However the scent signature will not change and that’s where Bo comes in he has caught thousands of high and low blood sugars through his life and it does not stop in school. Even with the constant flow of questions like “how old is he” or “what does he do”, “You’re not blind” and the most annoying “can I pet him” Bo stays calm and works through it. Bo works 6 hours through a school day and most of that is very boring to him, sitting or lying at my feet scenting for the slightest smell of a low or high. Bo is the best he is everything I could imagine and more. It makes me and my mother so proud to see him succeed in school.

Bo under desk at school

Bo napping after being picked-up from school.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Subject: Physical Science, Austin and Bo

When I drop Austin and Bo off at school in the morning, I always stay to watch them make their way from the sidewalk to the school entrance. As they disappear behind the glass doors, I wish I could see what they look like navigating the corridors and classrooms. This weekend I received an email from Austin’s science teacher that was the next best thing to being able to see boy and pup working on their own. Her words filled my eyes with tears of happiness and my heart with pride for the team my boy and his dog have become.

Subject: Physical Science, Austin and Bo

Hi Jennifer

Just a quick note to let you know how well things are going in Physical Science class with Bo.

We are in a very noisy part of the curriculum, with the students (a full class of 24) setting up cars and ramps, then running these noisy cars down the ramps throughout the class to collect data. Throughout it all, (3 class periods so far) Bo has been composed and settled. Austin does an amazing job of keeping an eye on him and keeping up with all the work expected at the same time.

I have been very impressed with both of them and thought you should know what a great job they are doing in class together.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bo's Four Year Homecoming Anniversary

October 13, 2013
Four years ago yesterday, we brought Bo home and began the journey that led us to where we are today. We welcomed our sweet pup into our hearts with hopes and dreams that were big but grounded in reality. We knew there were no guarantees the puppy we chose would have the drive or temperament to be a diabetic alert dog (DAD); what we did know is we were committed to doing everything we could to give him the best possible chance for success.

Fast forward to today and boy and pup are navigating high school side-by-side everyday. They are working together with ease. Bo is alerting Austin at school and Austin is responding to his alerts by checking his blood sugar and rewarding Bo. It wasn’t until boy and pup began working independently together at the start of this school year that I finally felt like I could say ‘I did it’ — I reached my ultimate goal of training a DAD for Austin.

The path we took to get a DAD isn’t a path that’s suited for every T1D family and certainly not a path for the faint of heart. I believe it worked for us because we committed our time, energy and resources to giving Bo the best possible chance for success. Additionally, we were fortunate to have an extraordinary trainer in Helen Nicholls St. Pierre plus an expansive support network of family, friends and other DAD teams from across the country.

We were lucky; Bo turned out to have the drive to do the work we raised and trained him to do. Not all dogs, despite their breeding and training, are cut-out to be service dogs —  a fact I think about every time I consider training another DAD for Austin to take to college. Similarly, not all families are suited to train a service dog. I’m thankful for our experience and grateful for the incredible journey we began four years ago when we brought Bo home.