The Pawsitive Life spent time with these “Diabetic Service Dogs”

PEACHES, the toy poodle, IS A SERVICE DOG!
My name is Paula’s Peaches & Cream and I’m an apricot poodle. I weigh 8.4 pounds.
My mistress, who I call Mama, has written a bunch of stories about me ‘cause I’m cute and she loves me, and she’s a writer. Her Daddy was a writer too and she has a couple of cousins who are writers so it must run in our family. Our people are of Scot-Irish and American Indian descent. Because I’m a French girl and my Mama knows a lot about history, she calls me Peach McGillacutty sometimes. Mama says that the Scots and the French go back a long way and that if you were born before 1912 in France or Scotland that you were automatically a citizen of both countries. Mama’s family immigrated to the United States a long time before that and so they are real Americans but I’m a French girl. Actually I was born at Knights Station but that’s another story.
I started having adventures almost immediately when Mama bought me from a breeder name Shirley. I call her grandma Shirley ‘cause my real poodle Mother, Isabella “Belle” Francesca, still lives with her. My real mother is pretty. So is my Daddy. In fact, he’s a champion ‘cause he’s so very handsome and well behaved. His name is Noble Justice and he’s famous.
I’m famous too; a lot of people don’t just know it yet.
I’m famous at my vet’s office, Animal Wellness Center in Plant City, where I’ve been Pet of the Month. My vet says I’m perfect and my Mama agrees. I’m famous at my dog spa, Pampered Pets in Tampa. Miss Sherrie and Miss Dana at my dog spa take good care of me. I go there for day care and for baths and grooming. They have fun dog parties but that’s another story.
I’m a diabetic alert service dog. My Mama and I live together. Mama is a juvenile or Type I diabetic. She takes insulin from an insulin pump. Sometimes in the night, her blood sugar drops really low and I sleep with her. So when her sugar drops too low, I claw at her and bark to wake her up. Then we get up and go to the kitchen and she sticks her finger and tests her blood glucose level, and usually eats something and has a glass of milk. She’s trying to diet and so usually she only has a little bite of something and drinks a glass of milk and we go back to bed. It’s my job you see to help her. I’m a working dog!
Service dogs are trained individually to help people who are handicapped. You may have seen a service dog with a blind person, helping to lead them to wherever they are going. Or you may have seen a big dog pulling a wheelchair for a person who has mobility problems. Dogs help all kinds of people, who have all kinds of handicaps.
Service dogs can go to all kinds of places with the people that they help. I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in town! The only time I have been turned away from anywhere was at a Starbucks in Gainesville, FL when a lady started screaming at my Mama to “Get that dog out of here!” That lady had never heard of a diabetic alert service dog and my Mama took me out to the car and we left. The baristas behind the counter were really nice and knew I was there, but the manager lady was really mean. She wouldn’t even listen to my Mama about it. She thought I was a pet. I had been in other Starbucks before and no one had been mean to us, but that manager lady said, “NO DOGS ALLOWED!” She did not know the law.
Recently, the same kind of thing happened at Roy’s Restaurant in Steinhatchee, FL. My Mama says next time it happens, she plans to call the police because it is against the law to deny a service dog entry. We also have to report it to the state and federal civil rights people.
My Mama knows the law. She went to law school and works in a very nice law firm. I go to her office sometimes and lots of people who work there have dogs too.
I am a pet. Aren’t all dogs pets? If they aren’t, they should be. Mama says that all dogs are pets but that poodles are family. She learned about poodles from her cousin Muriel Gardner, who had one named “Beau.” I like being Mama’s pet but I work hard at being her service dog too. Being a service dog means that I have been individually trained to assist a handicapped person. My Mama is an insulin dependent diabetic. She is on an insulin pump that gives her a few units of insulin every hour. Plus she gives bolus doses of insulin to herself at mealtimes to process the carbohydrates that she eats. Mama says, “It’s all about carbs.”
She learned about carbs from the registered dieticians at Watson Clinic. If we eat carbohydrates, and just about everything has carbs, it takes insulin to help turn that food into energy. Brian Friend, ARNP says, “Insulin is the key that unlocks the door to our cells so that our food can nourish our bodies.” He and endocrinologist Thomas W. Oates, M.D. take care of my Mama too.
Managing diabetes is more than just watching everything we eat, it includes emotions too. Stress can be a huge factor!
We were at the Don CeSar Hotel I St. Petersburg for Christmas last year and there was a man sitting near us who was a bad diabetic but I don’t think that he knew it. I got excited and growled at him. Everyone knows that I’m a ham and love attention, so something was wrong! Mama had tested and I wasn’t concerned with her. That man needed something to eat. He was acting angry and talking loud. Sometimes diabetics get angry when they are hungry or have low blood sugar. He was really skinny, which is sometimes a sign of out of control diabetes or someone who has hypoglycemia, low blood sugar. He was seated near us and when he had eaten a little bit, Mama asked him if he was a diabetic and he said he wasn’t. He sure smelled like he had low blood sugar to me! There are about 13 million diabetics in the United States and about half of them don’t know that they are diabetics. Both diabetics with high blood sugar, and people with low blood sugar (who may not be diabetics) have funny smells. I have been trained to tell Mama if she has low blood sugar. I’m not as good at telling her that she has high blood sugar ‘cause as a diabetic, it is high a lot of the time. In fact, sometimes diabetics with high blood sugar have very stinky breath. It’s a good thing that dog like stinky things! We do, you know! We can smell lots better than people.
Well, I hope you have learned something about service dogs, and especially diabetic alert service dogs. We are pretty special, saving our people’s lives all the time. So the next time you see a dog in a restaurant or in a pubic place where dogs usually are not allowed to go, you’ll know they are a service dog. Tell ‘em Peaches says “Hello! and that service dogs are allowed” based on Florida Statute § 413.08.

One Response to “The Pawsitive Life spent time with these “Diabetic Service Dogs””

  1. Dina Kerik Says:

    I’m forever grateful and in debt to you Peaches and your wonderful big brother who alerted me to my dumping sugar! When I went to visit your mama, you were up on my lap licking my face and pawing at my chest and talking to me very excitedly!

    I have cancer and it made my pancreas dump sugar. I found this out after you told me I had a problem smelling like over ripe fruit and I spoke with my doctor!

    Thank you for being a service dog and letting me know that you can do this fantastic job for anyone!!

    Dina Kerik

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