Our daughter has been dreaming of a new dog ever since we said goodbye to our 16 year old companion, Sanka. Sanka was an awesome rescue; a mutt of some sort, but healthy ‘as a dog’.
With both kids in hockey in the winter, lacrosse and flag football in the summer, it’s been hard to imagine introducing a dog in the equation.
Our daughter Anni has type 1 diabetes and has been since she was three. We’ve been introduced to some amazing advancements in technology and have been fortunate enough to provide her with a glucose monitoring system (shows us her glucose numbers every 5 minutes) and she’s also been on the insulin pump for over five years.
Still with all this technology, we’ve struggled with recognizing some of Anni’s high and low sugar levels (especially at night). Night time is the hardest. Anni is fantastic at eating bananas and drinking juice in her sleep. Bananas are our favourite because they’re easy to chew and we’re less nervous about her choking. Controlled sugar levels for bed not only help her body stay healthy, it also allows for a great sleep. So if we nail it, we know she’s well rested. But, sometimes, once all are sound asleep, it’s difficult to react to her monitor going off and (trying) to alert us.
We were recently introduced to Lions Foundation of Guide Dogs Canada. We always thought guide dogs were used for the visually impaired and those who were deaf or hard of hearing. We found out that guide dogs are also trained for autism, seizures, service for disabled and diabetics. WOW! We were amazed that dogs could be trained for hypoglycemia. Those nights where Anni’s sugar levels hit dangerously low levels, her guide dog would alert her.
So we’ve taken the leap. We’ve completed the application, along with her endocrinologist and her principal to state that she will be allowed to bring her guide dog to school. We can have the dog sit on the bench with her at hockey and on the sidelines at lacrosse. If we’re on vacation, the dog is part of our family and goes wherever Anni goes. As a community, we can make sure she’s looked after one extra step. Day and night.
The entire process, if approved, takes about 18 months. From when they are born, the dogs are socialized with the help of a foster family. After about a year, the dog begins training. If training is successful, the dog is placed in a home and successfully at work with his/her human.
With all the technology available, and applying for a guide dog, we, as a family still hope that in Anni’s lifetime there will be a cure for type 1 diabetes and hopefully one day soon, we will not need any of these devices or guide dogs. Until there is a cure, we will continue to raise money and continue walking with the JDRF Walk.
Silvia Yeomans is the owner of Queen Spectacle. Queen Spectacle has locations in Port Credit, Streetsville and The Kingsway. They are a full eye care team recognized for their service excellence.
For more information, visit their website at www.queenspectacle.com