Diabetic Alert Dog will serve 10 year-old-girl as she copes with diabetes and loss
Rockwell City, Iowa, May 15, 2017 (Newswire.com) – May 15 is a special day for ten-year-old Kalie, of Rockwell City, Iowa, as she meets her Type 1 Diabetic Alert Dog delivered by Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. Kalie’s dog, a Labrador Retriever named “Holly,” has already received thousands of hours of training as a diabetic alert dog, and it will continue to learn under the careful guidance of a certified trainer from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, “SDWR,” and through the rapport it develops with Kalie and her mother Amanda. SDWR has a mission to provide specially-bred and trained dogs for adults and children with invisible disabilities like Autism, PTSD, Seizure Disorders, and Diabetes.
Kalie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at just two years of age and only knows daily life with a dozen or more finger-poke blood glucose checks, counting carbohydrate intake, and nighttime blood glucose checks by mom. Kalie has had many long-term stays in the hospital as Kalie is diagnosed as a “fragile” diabetic. A fragile diabetic can have very rapid and life-threatening changes in their blood glucose levels. They are particularly sensitive to insulin and stressors that can make their blood glucose rise or plummet.
In addition to her daily challenges of living with Type 1, Kalie lost her father, Jamie, in September of 2013 when he was killed in the line of duty as a Rockwell City Police Officer. So Kalie has faced more challenges in her short ten years than some people face in a lifetime. According to her mom, Amanda, “Kalie needs this service dog to help her live a more independent life, and having the diabetic alert dog with her I know will make her feel safe.”
Unlike Type 2 diabetes, which can often be controlled with a balanced diet and watching one’s weight, Type 1 is caused when a virus attacks and permanently shuts down a person’s pancreas, causing them to need insulin 24 hours a day. Kalie’s diet must contain a careful balance of foods with a special focus on the amount and intake of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have to be covered by insulin injection or through an insulin pump that is attached to the body delivering insulin through canulas — similar to small IV catheters. Blood glucose levels have to be monitored several times each day and night, as well as after exercise or sleep. Common illnesses like a cold or flu are especially difficult for people with Type 1 as viruses, and fevers almost always cause spikes in glucose levels. Blood glucose levels that are too high or too low are life-threatening events for people with Type 1 diabetes. Now, with the arrival of the Holly, Kalie will have yet another tool, a four-legged one that has received foundational training to monitor his diabetes.
Dan Warren, Founder and President of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, indicates that the Organization’s diabetes alert dogs are trained to recognize and alert on the scent of low and or high blood glucose levels. “When Kalie’s blood glucose begins to fluctuate, her service dog will pick up the scent and give the alert for ‘high’ or ‘low’ blood glucose levels,” states Warren. Often, people may also have hypo or hyperglycemic unawareness — a complication of diabetes in which the person is unaware of a deep drop in blood sugar levels. Many Type 1 patients have implanted glucose monitoring systems, but these systems are often 20 minutes behind an alert dog’s sense of the glucose movement. Electronic systems measure parts per million while alert dogs have been shown to scent parts per trillion. A trained diabetes alert dog is taught to alert and be persistent to the point where it will go get another member of the household if the dog’s “person” does not respond.
Holly will not only take care of Kalie at home, she will accompany Kalie and her mother as they travel each year to Washington, DC, to be a part of the Fallen Officers Memorial week of activities. As a service dog, Holly’s right to be with Kalie in all public places is protected under Americans with Disabilities laws. Holly will go with Kalie to restaurants, shopping, to doctors and hospital visits, and eventually she may even attend school with her.
Kalie’s mom is quick to point out that Rockwell City is a small and close community, and that community rallied around Kalie as she worked to get funding in place to receive her service dog. “My husband’s fellow officers contributed so much financially to help Kalie, as did the Fraternal Order of Eagles of Iowa. Without this help, today would not have been possible for Kalie.” Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers also contributed a $10,000 grant through national foundations to help Kalie get her service dog, Holly.
These amazing dogs are trained to retrieve essentials needed such as Glucose tablets, Glucagon, insulin, juice boxes, testing meters or retrieve medication from a designated spot in the house. Alert dogs are further trained to dial out on K-9 equipped phones to summon emergency medical help if needed. All these trained activities help ease the concern that parents of a young child with Type 1 Diabetes.
Holly will also work with the SDWR trainers and Kalie toward public access certification. Dan Warren adds: “All the incredible services these dogs can provide are through progression, hard work and dedication of the Organization and the family who must work together to build on diabetic alert dog training foundations and fundamentals. This is about an 18-month training program.”
What sets SDWR apart from other service dog organizations are the customized training methods and SDWR matches dogs to their “person.” According to Dan Warren, “that important bonding time between dog and person can begin to happen right away. For the over seven years we’ve been utilizing this method of dog placement, we’ve achieved amazing results. To date, we have almost 600 dogs working across the country and around the globe.”
Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers is a non-profit organization based in Madison, Virginia, and relies on donations to help the Organization in its mission, “Until there’s a cure …there’s a dog.” To make or donation or learn more about SDWR, please visit the website http://www.sdwr.org/. To learn more about Diabetic Alert Service Dogs, visit http://www.sdwr.org/service-dogs/diabetic-alert/. To find out how you can volunteer or serve as a puppy raiser, visit http://www.sdwr.org/volunteer-opportunities/ .