Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jeepers, Creepers, Where'd You Get Those Sneakers?

As if a service dog doesn't generate enough attention, Murphy has recently begun sporting dog boots. Common among service dogs but not dogs in general, I'm often asked about them.

Why? Have you tried walking across asphalt in July in Kentucky? I dare you to do it barefoot! It can cause blisters on dog pads.

Where? Ruffwear.com sells them as a set of four. Caution: Make sure the back feet are the same size as the front - they aren't always and you can buy them in pairs if necessary. If you are training a service dog, you can sign up for their pro account.

How? Don't get all excited when your box arrives, pop them on, and expect to go on a long walk. We trained a few weeks with rewards for just touching them with her paw and not chewing them. Then, we clicked and rewarded for putting one on with no walking. Then, she stood up on two and I threw treats continuously to make her forget them. By the time we put on all four, she didn't mind but her walk reminded me of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

"I can tell she doesn't like them!" said a judgmental bystander, arms crossed. Well, neither do horses like saddles right away. Again, take off your shoes and walk out to your car, THEN you can comment.

She now walks pretty well with them and only occasionally will, if bored, decide to chew on one. And, she does look rather cute.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Water Training

"She's in training?" the pool manager and lifeguard asked, looking down at Murphy. Murphy sported her "In Training" red vest. I casually knew this woman for some years from our Church and from the YMCA pool, and she was a reasonable person. Still, this was a private pool I knew that legally they could deny me permission to bring Murphy to sit by the pool while William swims. (A DAD is particularly useful in a water situation where the CGM (continuous glucose monitor) won't work as Bluetooth signals don't work in water. 

I affirmed she was in training. "You're doing water training?" she asked. Oh, no, I know she's not allowed in the water. Then, the woman told me that indeed Murph was allowed in this pool and that she would help us train her. If William should need her while he was in the pool, she needed to be comfortable entering the water. Murphy loves, loves water, ponds, lakes, gradual entry, but not swimming pools. So, we began showing Murphy the steps and seeing if she would just jump in. Murphy is cautious, but really wanted the tennis balls we threw in. 

Ultimately, we got her relaxed by playing in the kiddie pool which was unoccupied. 

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This whole day was such a gift. In general, dogs are not allowed in public or private pools, though it varies by local ordinances. This pool manager not only allowed it, but offered to continue to help us train her for water access at an indoor facility in the off-season. The people around the pool, watching what was going on, clapped for Murphy when she finally jumped in on her own. It also was an opportunity for William to see the joy in training her himself.

Murphy's presence brings so much openness. I talk to so many people that I might otherwise throw a smile but keep walking instead of stopping, hearing their story, and answering their questions about T1D.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

First Time for Everything


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Enjoying a trip on the fishing boat with the boy.
First time on a boat (and yes, we are getting a flotation vest;
she outgrew the one I bought before it was ever used.)



First time on an escalator.
Shopping for the boy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Scary Pig

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Our local farm store had odd ceramic pig planters. Murphy was sure they were real hogs. Shopping often provides us with training opportunities.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Believe First

Murphy brought William a pillowcase she found in the laundry and sat in front of him. William told me that she was behaving a bit strangely. She brought the same pillowcase to me. Dexcom CGM said he was 107 flat, a nice, steady flat blood glucose. Was this an alert? 

I told William to test, just in case. He was 78 actual finger stick. Within the half hour, the CGM read 48 mg/dL, although William contends he was not that low based on symptoms. He had, however, already treated with carbs because of Murphy's alert. Likely, he would have been 48 had he not had the jump on it. 

At this stage, it is sometimes hard to believe or be sure she is alerting. The alerts are not consistent or clear. I think what we've come to realize is that William is often lower - in the 70s or 80s - and this doesn't concern Murphy. She is used to it. She does, however, clearly pick up on highs and rapid decreases. 

We have to believe first, followed up by a reality check. She just alerted again today - he was 77 and dropping, not flat. Good girl!