Saturday, January 14, 2017


Murphy was so wildly popular at the YMCA yesterday, there ought to be a business where puppies are taken out into public to socialize people. People I never would have spoken to or who wouldn't have spoken to me sat with me in the lobby, asked about Murphy's intended service dog purpose, were educated about Type 1 Diabetes or told me their own stories, talked about dogs they have/had, and so on. The staff there are very welcoming and it is a good place to train.

She was cuddled and petted by dozens of people, including the entire 10 year old girls swim team, leaving her rather soggy. Other highlights of the week were meeting her doggy cousin, from whom she commandeered this ball left behind, going to two classes with William, and Tae Kwon Do.

Noisy environments like the pool at the YMCA and a do-jang are both challenging for her. She shook when we first got to Tae Kwon Do just because of a new place with new people. When they started kiap shouting and kicking each other, she became very concerned.

Soon, however, she accepted the input and watched her boy.

Murphy learning Spanish:

This stage of her life is critical for experiencing new situations and socialization. It is hard, hard work and one comes to realize why diabetic alert dogs cost $20,000.

One staff member asked what treats I was giving Murphy and I told her about our "work to eat program" whereby Murphy gets no food free in her bowl. All food must be earned. "I should have done that with my son," she replied.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Three's a Crowd

A diabetic alert dog was on my radar right away, back in 2013. There were many reasons to table the idea for awhile. We already had so much on our plates: the learning curve for T1D is steep. We already had two aged dogs, both just over 10 years old and complicating the social scene. Perhaps in several years, they would have lived their natural lives, making bringing a puppy into our home easier. And lastly, timing for William. He needed to be old enough to participate, but more importantly, the dog's age needed to be such that it would still (God willing) be young enough to be a DAD as William goes off to college.

For over a year, I studied the type of dog, the type of training, researched kennels and breeds, and yet, our two old dogs were the energizer bunnies. Now over thirteen years old, neither shows any sign of slowing down. Paris, the Japanese Chin on the right, she is blind, deaf, and stupid (no, really) and Daisy, she patrols our perimeters daily, cornering opossums in the barn and other intruders. Her eyes remain clear.

Perhaps, I unwisely reasoned, Daisy would teach the puppy manners. Murphy quickly checked (still does) Daisy's "equipment" for nursing possibilities. Daisy doesn't take too kindly to such familiarity. Paris is a squeak toy that never quits. She provided the opportunity to teach that we don't jump on the backs of geriatric dogs. All gather at my feet when it is training time, eager for treats.

Daisy was trained to alert for a low smell in a bottle (she doesn't give a rat's ass about William being low), but uses her paw. Murphy, ever observant, tried this alert, too. We are going to use a nose nudge, so I am now training her separately from Daisy on alerts. All in all, it would be better if we had only one dog for training and I highly recommend it. We've gotten around some of the difficulties with a routine that works. I'll write more on that tomorrow.

Update: Murphy now weighs 18 pounds and likes three cups of kibble a day (also used as treats)

Friday, January 6, 2017

In Training

Murphy got her "In Training" vest yesterday. We added another location to visit, the Friends & Fiber shop. The women there asked us to please stop by if we are in town.

Having a "baby" again is certainly challenging to this old woman who isn't sleeping well as it is. Although the "baby" will sleep from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., if I get up to check William, she wakes up and often "says" that I might as well take her potty since I'm up. At 10 degrees F and in my bathrobe....The good news is that she is supposed to wake up if I check him, particularly if he is high or low BG.

She doesn't like the cold either and quickly relieved herself on our covered porch before I could get her down the stairs. I can't say as I blame her.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


While Murphy is waiting for her vaccine immunity to be complete, we are working at home on obedience, potty training and scent training. I've read a pile of books on general obedience, puppy rearing, and service/alert dog training. Actively, I am using the Dog's Way Podcast and Diabetic Alert Dog University for training at home.  Both seems to fit my own ideas and natural style. I'm sure I'll gather from other sources as well.

In her videos on the Diabetic Alert Dog University, Mary talks about dividing the dog's food for training purposes:
  • One fourth for morning working breakfast (has to get it out of a toy)
  • One fourth for scent training from nesting bowls containing low scent
  • One fourth for general training from my or William's hand
  • One fourth for evening working breakfast (has to get it out of toy)
Typical Lab, she inhales her food if given in a bowl. My husband calls it "hoovering" as in vacuums.

This bowl slows down her eating and makes her think. I ordered some of the suggested eating toys online, but improvised a few homemade ones while we wait for delivery.

This is just a tube from inside an empty aluminum foil package (they are stronger) sealed on both ends with paper and duct tape, with a hole cut on one end. I put kibble and one piece of smelly lunch meat inside. Keeps her very busy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Personal All Time Low

Murphy at 9 weeks
William hit a number I'd hoped never to see last night: 38 mg/dL. You might wonder, "How in the world...? Don't you have that fancy CGM thing?" We do. It did work. It alerted that William was 70 mg/dL. I tested and he was and with two units on board. Two units, if in range, can drop him as much as 60 points. I suspended his pump and gave him juice, set my alarm to 20 minutes for a recheck and settled in to watch an episode of "Lost" on Netflix in the middle of the night to keep me awake.

I watched the CGM continuously. It dropped a bit to 59, waiting for that juice to kick in. It never went below 59, but when twenty minutes were up, a retest shocked me. 38! William had been too high earlier in the evening and perhaps had gotten a bit aggressive with lowering his BG. Sometimes being high and fighting it with insulin is followed by a low.

While we were treating, Murphy woke up and excitedly was licking his face. William tried to hold her at arms length but she would not quit. An alert? I took it as one and gave her lots of high pitched praise and a spoonful of peanut butter. Out to potty, and then she went back to his bed to sleep. I am hoping this is the beginning. 

The thing is this: the CGM is very good at reading what IS. If I'm awake, I can look at a graph and predict the trend. I don't do so well at predication while asleep.  An alerting dog can actually detect up to 15 minutes before a CGM. Here's to Murphy and her future.