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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Adventure, A New Friend

Well, it's official!  We sent in Caitie's application today for a DAD, a Diabetes Alert Dog.  This decision has been a few years in the making, from dream stage to learning stage to decision the end, the resounding question we asked ourselves was, "Why WOULDN'T we do this?!"  A companion for Caitie that will be a safety net, another tool for her to use to rise above the highs and lows to live the life she wants! Not to mention she is a HUGE dog lover and there is a smile across her face ten feet wide! We're in!

If you are like me, you have a ton of questions if you're just learning about DAD's now.  I still have a ton of questions!!  I'll be happy to share what I learn along the way, and to share our journey, but what I know already is every person's experience is going to be totally different~there are a lot of different views out there, a lot of different methods, a lot of different philosophies on DADs, and their owners!  So, consider this one story, one journey...maybe you will choose to take this path, or that, but, in the end, know that we are just one of many, and, we are doing what feels right for Caitie.  I hope you'll join us on our journey, follow along, stop in once in a while to find out what's going on, because I think it is going to be one heck of an adventure!!

So a few years back, when I first heard about DADs, I thought to myself, with goosebumps on my arms, "There is Caitie's graduation present right there...I want her to go to college with her own DAD!"  Now, realize, she was 9 at the time, but, I believe in planning ahead!!  ;)  (believing in planning ahead and always being able to do that, those are two different things!  Especially with D on the ride!)  So I read the stories as they came into view...astounding what these dogs can do!  They can detect when "their person" has high or low blood sugar, and, alert them to it..." incredible", I thought...

So, I researched a little bit more, and found the cost of these dogs is remarkable as well...$10, $20, $25,000 ... I understand the cost, the training...but, my dream suddenly became a bit out of reach...I've got two kids, one who is about to embark on a college adventure of her own, not to mention the every day bills, medical bills, etc. that comes with a family.  So, I watched from afar as I learned more and more about DADs.  Of course, the dream never left my mind.


A few years later, DADs popped up again as a local boy was being interviewed on the news about his DAD and the very generous donor who was stepping up to help this boy with the costs of getting a DAD.  The donor, so impressed with what these dogs can do, and, an animal lover himself, put his hope of helping to find 10 more dogs for people in the area out to the public.  You had to apply to become a candidate for this opportunity, so, I was on the computer, lickety-split, filling out the application.  Another big learning curve, another chance to dream...

A few days later we received a call from the company that had done the training for this boy and his dog.  That is where the real discovery began.  Caitie had just turned 13, and the interviewer asked about her life, how she manages her diabetes, etc.  This is where I learned about the first philosophy of DADs.

Philosophy #1:  24/7 DADs

This company trains DADs to be with their person 24/7, no exceptions.  The interviewer asked us to think long and hard about this...Caitie would be taking the dog to school with her, have to care for the dog at school, take the dog everywhere...all the time...except maybe the occasional date...down the road...wayyyy down the road  ;)  The interviewer mentioned that it was difficult to place dogs with 13 year old girls ... one girl had actually returned her dog, the teasing and spotlight were too much for her - kids can be mean - and when she was taking her dog to school, the kids started making fun of her for having to clean up the dog's "business" during the day.  The peer pressure and the outing were too much.  I thought about that a lot...  I shared that with Caitie, we had a heart to heart about what life would be like.  She'd have to explain, teach, educate, D would be out there, front and center, at least for a while...Caitie's response, I'll never forget it, "Welllll, I don't think we should completely discount the idea just because of that..."

So, we waited to hear if we were in the running for some support...the call never came and the subject faded as we learned more about the process, the life of DADs and I watched more closely as I learned of stories of those who had gone the DAD route.  We thought a lot more about the intricacies of having a DAD and what that would mean, how it would affect the every day... still... a story would come and I would think, "(sigh) but to have that companion, that safety net, for when she goes off on her own..."it still seemed like the right thing for Caitie.  Caitie still thought it would be the most awesomest thing ever!  Here is one of those times when I do believe everything happens for a reason and everything happens in good time, if it should.

Stay tuned for the next installment, "THE REAL BEGINNING"...coming as soon as I have another moment to write!

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