Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cadence's Journey

Cadence's Journey 
Finding Her New BFF

This beautiful little girl is Cadence. Cadence is 4 years old and like many other girls her age she is very active. She loves Tinkerbell, Lady Gaga, going to the beach, and learning about the earth and anatomy, she is a big sister. Cadence is also a Type 1 diabetic, she was diagnosed at only 2 1/2 years old shortly after her baby sister was born. If you don't know about Type 1 diabetes you can click here or here to read more about it. 

I found out about Cadence and her need through a friend posting a link to a Facebook page. You can find the Facebook page by clicking here, the page is called A Diabetes Dog For Cadence. Of course I started reading the status updates and posts to see what it was all about. I mean I have heard of seeing eye dogs and other types of service dogs but never a diabetes alert dog (DAD). I found myself reading for over an hour the many posts about these dogs but most importantly how much this little girl needs one. So then I started doing some research of my own on these dogs and how exactly they can alert to blood sugar levels. I have to say I am amazed at reading the many stories of these dogs and how they save lives. 
Let me get back to Cadence, I emailed her momma Marijane and asked her permission to make this post. I asked her to share some information with me so we could get to know Cadence better as well as their journey to getting a dog for her. Here is some of what she has shared with me.

"She has had Type 1 diabetes since she was two and a half. Cadence has hypo-unawareness, meaning she doesn't recognize low blood sugars, but more troubling is that not only does she not recognize them, she shows absolutely none of the normal symptoms of either low or high blood sugars. She can be playing, seemingly happy and unaffected, when her blood sugar is 45 or 450. After doing some research into diabetic alert dogs, we contacted Guardian Angel Diabetic Alert Dogs who referred us to a most remarkable trainer, KC Owens. Seeing eye and other service dogs have been around for some time and are well known, but diabetes alert dogs are relatively new and KC herself is doing innovative and remarkable new training techniques on them to make them even more effective at scenting out and alerting for changes in blood sugar.

The puppies are fathered by a Labrador that is already a successful diabetes alert dog and then are imprinted with the scent of a low blood sugar starting on the very day they're born. They are asked to sniff scent samples of low blood sugar daily, are given a food reward for it, and before long they naturally equate the scent of a low with a reward and start alerting on their own. The exceptional benefit of these dogs is not only the imprinting, but the fact that trainer KC is a Type 1 herself so they are getting real-time scent training on an actual diabetic person. The dogs can be trained to alert at specific numbers, either low or high, will alert  and wake you when the child is sleeping, and in fact give their alert as the blood sugar is coming down- long before it reaches the dangerous level. Most owners of these dogs have seen their A1cs improve dramatically within a few months of having one.

Diabetic alert dogs tend to be very expensive, but because I have a bit of a background with dogs we are hoping to get a puppy with six months training and then can continue reinforcing and refining the training myself under KCs guidance. This cuts down on the cost significantly, but because we are a single income family so that I can stay home to care for Cadence and her sister, it's still an enormous expense for us. We have created a Facebook page about our efforts to help fundraise for the cost of the puppy and are currently exploring other fund raising avenues. The support and help we've seen has been overwhelming and we are so touched by the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers alike but we are still currently fund-raising to try and meet our goal.

This dog will not only be a best friend for my little girl, but will help improve her overall health and may in fact one day save her life." 


You can read more on the diabetes dogs by clicking here and here. There are several different programs that offer these dogs, if you are interested in owning one I encourage you to research and find one that is right for you and your needs. 
 This is a great video that not only explains Type 1 diabetes but also how these dogs are trained to help save lives.

Let me introduce you to Snitch, this gorgeous boy is the dog that was going to be Cadence's best friend and life saver. Sadly due to some unforeseen health issues he was not be able to be Cadence's DAD. Snitch unfortunately has passed on due to his health issues, but was alerting his owner KC until the end.

The picture below is of a litter of  Australian Shepherd puppies. One of these little balls of fur will be Cadence's DAD. They are unsure if they will be getting a male or a female. 

There are still some expenses that Cadence's family are going to need some help with  like the training, pet insurance, spaying or neutering. Even if you can't give a donation you can show your support by just liking her page, sharing the link to her page, or leaving a message of support on the pages wall. Let's show this little girl some love and at least help by sharing her story with others. You can find information on how to donate on the Facebook page set up to help get Cadence her new BFF by clicking here.

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes 

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