Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dex is Offline

As I write this, the distinctive alarm rings that signifies the Dexcom has lost William's signal. William is awake and playing on his computer upstairs so I'm not too "alarmed". The Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor) is a life changer technology, but it and we fail sometimes. Two nights ago, it did tell me he was dropping. Earlier, he'd laid on the sensor and that causes a "compression low" or false reading. I told myself I'd check in a minute. By the time I awoke next and actually did check, he was 45 mg/dL, a number we never want to see.

So - we work towards better routines and multiple layers. Murphy, it will be awhile before she factors in. Right now, we are figuring out how to get her to not nip, chase the cats, and pull all the moss from my potted plants. (Answer: remove moss.) Her biggest guilty pleasure is trying to play or pounce on our 13.5 lb blind, deaf and stupid Japanese Chin dog. Training a puppy is not for the timid; training a DAD is a step above crazy.

I am building a list of places that will allow her access while in training. The coffee shop in town tentatively said yes. A vest is on the way to make her purpose clear. This week, we went with family to a restaurant and she made not a peep in a borrowed cat crate.

My favorite time with her is at 10 p.m.  She is warm and stretches, making a little yawn sound. Her little round puppy belly is so soft. It won't last long. She is changing before our eyes.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Tomorrow marks two weeks since Murphy joined us. She has had a multitude of experiences and met many people and animals. William introduced her to several people at the store and told them how she was going to be a service dog. When I told him he didn't need to, that non-service dogs also get socialized, he said, "Well, I might as well get used to it and also educated other people about it."
Soon, she will be wearing a service dog vest.

Murphy has accomplished much in two weeks. She can now sit on command, down, come, heel (well, okay that's a stretch), has gotten used to her collar and leash, worn a coat on cold days. She's met horses, dogs, cats, many people, and seen deer. She has been to two of William's classes, stores, and endured Christmas parties. She has had raspberries blown on her incredibly soft belly. She will "get it" (fetch) sometimes and "give it" back, but she is easily distracted.

I know we are in a race. I'm told by "dog experts" that a bazillion things need to be accomplished by the time she is twelve weeks old. Already, she is beyond what I thought a young pup can do, so whatever, you dog geniuses. I've heard many a "discouraging word" about going it alone to train a DAD. Maybe they are right, maybe I'm crazy. Maybe this dog will be awesome.

Friday, December 23, 2016

People Things

Look at those sad eyes! "You mean I have to wear this batman cape?" Potty training a 7 week old puppy when it is 17 degrees Fahrenheit is a fool's errand. Still, it is going well and the little coat, which I purchased sometime ago for our Japanese Chin for $3 on sale (score!) fits her perfectly. It is a good lesson, for she'll soon be wearing a service dog vest. At first, however, she would not move and just sat there protesting.

This week has also been the introduction of the collar and leash. The collar just itches so much I bet you are itching just reading this. We are using a puppy leader leash recommended by the breeder and she is finally, after a week, walking along with it nicely.

So, first week here and I torture her with people clothes, cold weather, a collar all the time, and a leash. And, she still loves us!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Week One - Continued

Almost the first day home when a treat was offered, Murphy would sit quietly, waiting and looking into our eyes. We reinforced this behavior with "sit" and I congratulated myself (ha ha) that I taught her to sit in one day. Reality check is that Wildrose Kennels was doing a lot with this pup before she came to live with us. She is not afraid of much, although she trembled a bit when meeting the horses. Cats, well, those are to chase, aren't they? Lazarus, a mean outdoor cat taught her a lesson.

At the kennel, she had to crawl over steps and inclines and through a tunnel to get to the play area where she was exposed to multiple items and noises. This and being exposed to diabetic "low" scent factored in our choosing this facility.  

In one week, she has had to adjust to so many new things, places, and people. 
Current weight: 11 pounds

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The First Week

Murphy has been with us one week now and is 8 weeks old. We couldn't be happier with our experiences so far. Well, I could have done without the two exhausting days of travel, but all went as planned. We arrived at Wildrose Kennels  last Tuesday to pick her up.

Until I picked her up, I second-guessed myself. Can we do this? It is a lot of money. Perhaps I should have gotten a rescue dog or a local backyard bred lab. It is going to be a lot of work (though that never deterred me from anything else).

We'd waited for two-thirds of the year for this specific litter, bred from Deke, mascot for Ducks Unlimited. And in the first few days, all my doubts melted away. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Getting Ready

We received an update on breeding schedule of Wildrose Kennels. Once your puppy is ready, a happy call is made to the prospective owners giving the date of "puppy picking" and a class to get the puppy and owner off to a good start. There was only one weekend in all of winter that we could not come, committed and wanting to be at the wedding of a couple dear to my heart. The call came: that was the weekend our puppy was ready. Murphy's Law strikes!

We could "pass" and be put on the next litter or the next time a black female puppy was available, but this puppy would be sired out of Deke. I'd been watching their website and Deke, well, he is a great dog aside from the fact I did not want to wait any longer. 

Missing the puppy picking class is no big deal as we are fourth in line in choosing of four, meaning we don't get to choose. So, we arranged to fly, after that weekend, the 12 hours from the wedding to Memphis and drive the remaining 1.5 hours to Mississippi. With a new puppy, we will drive the seven hours home. This seems to be a fortuitous thing in the end - saving me seven hours of driving. See, Murphy's Law can be a good thing.

This crate was purchased for the way home. I know, there is a good chance she'll chew it up if left alone, but I plan to use this just when traveling and we are with her. I have a hard crate at home. This folds completely up into a carrying case and fits the airline requirements for baggage. Check back later for reviews and whether or not it worked. It fits up to 50 pounds, although look at Daisy, who weighs 50 pounds, standing next to it. If it lasts until she is six months, I think I'll be happy with it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Introducing - Murphy

This page, Murphy the DAD, is for sharing our experience in training a black lab puppy as a Diabetic Alert Dog or DAD. Before I start writing about how we chose to self-train, how we chose the kennel, how this is supposed to work, let's get down to the most important thing: a puppy photo!

This month, we will travel to Wildrose Kennels to pick up a black female puppy. William named her "Murphy" for Murphy's Law, stating that after a diagnosis of T1D, Hashimoto's (hypothyroidism), and being told to go gluten free, his motto was that if something bad could happen, it will. Not the happiest sentiment, but I liked the name so well I didn't fight it. 

The puppy from Wildrose's Deke and Lucille will be one of these four. Puppies are chosen in order of deposits received, and we are fourth in line for choosing one of four female black labs. In other words, we will not be choosing. Perhaps it is just as well as we won't have the agony of the decision. I laughed, however, when I opened the attachment.

"That one will be your's, William!"
"Which one?"
"The one running off and refusing to be photographed."

We don't really know which of the four will be ours, but following William's philosophy, it could very well be the naughty one!

More on another day!