D-Dog, (Almost) A Hero

She rests her head on the edge of the bed. Her big, brown puppy eyes stare at her master.

He lies on the bed. Asleep. Or so it appears.

It looks like he's sleeping, but the dog knows better. She knows this is a Diabetic Low. An Insulin Reaction. Even before he does.

I've had my share of Morning Lows and I've told some of those tales here. What hasn't been fully told is the story of Riley, our wannabe hero D-Dog. SuperG recently Tweeted that his own pup caught a Low before his CGM, and he also recently wrote about a D-Meetup in Minnesota where Molly's trained service dog Dixie caught his Low. This all reminds me of Riley's behavior when these situations surface. This 5-year old black lab can sense when something's wrong. Typically, she wants to jump up on the bed with me and play, in order to make everything better. My crazy, delusional hypoglycemia-induced rants and arm flailings don't seem to calm her down, they just provide more ammunition for her wanting to be a part of the action. It seems whenever my blood sugar is low, there Riley is - wanting to help. Granted, she has no known service or alert dog training. Only that desire to love, to recognize when something's off with her Daddy, and urge to do something to make it better.

Despite her love, wet nose, playful licking, or entrancing brown eyes, Riley is not quite a hero. While she can sense the Lows, it's true that I'll never rely on Riley to call 911. Or to inject me with glucagon. Or feed me honey, frosting, juice, or glucose tabs. Instead, I can hope that she'll continue sensing something is wrong and try to nudge or wake me into a BG test and treatment, before it gets too serious.

Most recently, this meant hovering nearby me went I went Low in the morning hours and my wife had already left for work. After Losing Time, she received a call from my office that I hadn't yet appeared or checked in and my calendar didn't indicate any meetings set for that time. She called; no answer. So, she came home. Stepping into the bedroom, the first thing she saw was Riley near the bed. With her nose resting on the edge and her eyes fixed on me - as I appeared sleeping. But when Suzi nudged me, she knew something was wrong and my sugar was Low. The dog knew, too, and went to her bed as Suzi navigated the Insulin Reaction and finally got it under control. While the dog knew well in advance, there wasn't much she could do to help boost my BG unless I took the step to do so myself...

Oh, Riley. Almost... (Enter the Bonnie Tyler music of Holding Out For A Hero...)

Just like Bo Brady rescuing Hope from marrying a scumbag, Riley is doing what she can to rescue me from Lows. (/Digression: When I first had the thought about Riley being Almost a Hero and this song came to mind, I spent an obscene amount of time on YouTube researching this song and all the places it's been, such as Days of our Lives. This included researching the soap, and the story of Bo and Hope, and... Oh boy. I know. All in the name of D-Dog Love, though...\End Digression Here.)

Ok. Back to reality. Though she's not quite there, Riley is Almost a Hero. Almost. She does her part and what she can. And that's reassuring. I'm sure the same can be said by any diabetic who has that kind of reassurance in a pet, particularly those who may be home alone. A pet-version of the CGM, you might say.

As mentioned before, some specific groups exist on this front - Heaven Scent Paws and Dogs for Diabetics that specifically address this topic and provide dogs and/or training for them on the D-recognition front. Good stuff, and worthwhile organizations to have. Our pets are lovable and can also serve as natural low-sugar detectors when we're asleep, if we don't have a CGM and don't happen to wake up by the time a reaction sneaks up on us.

We all need a hero. Even one that doesn't strive to be that way, but won't hesitate to love us heroicly and do whatever it takes to make sure we're happy and OK.


Anonymous said…
That is so sweet! I'm not sure my pup does anything more than try to strangle me. He walks on my chest and puts his front paws on my throat.

Not sure what he's trying to accomplish.

Other than that, having a pup is so great. I never thought I could love an animal so much, even if he does try to kill me.
Judi said…
You must know this is one of my favorite. The clips are great. And Bo and Hope are still on there and still married.
Anonymous said…
This is a cool story. I had a Shar Pei who used to wake me up in the middle of the night when I was having lows in my sleep. I would be so irritated, before I realized what his reasoning was.2 hours ago
Meri said…
We have a dog from Dogs4Diabetics! He as been a miracle for our family.

I would say your guy is a hero. If he ever is acting like that...I would take that as a serious cue. He gets it, and that is a gift.

I'm so impressed with you...not many men could put Bo and Hope on their blog...classics moments! Thanks for the laugh. :)
George said…
Very cool man. Pets have a 6th sense I believe.

Bo and Hope? well they have eternal love right? Or does one get possessed by the devil? No that's Marlena. Or was it Roman? Ugh! :)
Anonymous said…
Our dog is also not a service dog but she was the first to notice Dd was sick, staying in her room and not sleeping in her normal spot, always wanting to be with her instead of the rest of the family. Its cool how dogs can sense things like that!
Parent of Teen Type 1 daughter, dx 2/3/10

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