Some things I have not seen discussed in this group (could be here, just did not see it):
1. No one ever mentions how much Labs, most common DAD, shed. Is no one bothered by that?!!
2. Does anyone know of the potential for a poodle (would want the smaller mini poodle) as an alert dog? Doesn't shed! But would it be good alerter? My reason for wanting a non-shedding, smaller dog has to do with being older and not wanting to face all the related house cleaning and dog brushing in the years to come.
3. Has anyone had experience getting a 'starter' dog that is trained to alert for hypoglycemia but you have to do the public access training. There is a trainer (Scott Smith) in Virginia Beach who sells such dogs at a cheaper price than the 20k for a "finished" dog. Or is it the other VA trainer who does that?! Not sure how much for the starter dog though. If yes to this, were you able to get a good result with your own training for the public access portion?
4. Does anyone know of a trainer who will train a dog of your choice instead of the usual Lab or other shedding dog? (My preference: wt between 15 and 35 lbs, female, non or low shedding)
Finally, I am considering a DAD for some of the usual reasons. I now live alone; I have severe hypos, unaware, and have had diabetes so long that I fear not coming out of one of the hypos. I have a pump and cgm. I still have the occasional severe hypo during sleep. But, no one to check on me now.
I know that I am asking a lot but I am older and don't have the housecleaning and dog care energy of my younger years so I have to try for what would best work for me. Thanks for any responses.
This is a WIN-WIN situation. Save the life of a shelter dog, who in turn will save, could save your life. SMILES all the way around.
Keep in mind raising a dog and training it especially for public access and DAD is a lot of work, daily. Before I started the PIVIT Therapy, I was housebound and could not even consider it. Now, Lexee is ready for her Service dog certification and well on her way with her DAD training.
As this training becomes more general knowledge, the cost will come down. More people will be able to afford a DAD. We can hurry this along, by helping each other.
I believe everyone who wants and can care for a DAD, should have one. Let's work together.
Please do not mistake a person with a service dog as treating their service dog like a robot. In public the dog is working. Do people, or dogs for that matter come up to you when you are working and pat you on the head. Does your boss give you lots of encouragement and verbal praise as you work??
That service dog is loved more than you know, just not openly while it is working.
I checked and their wait time is 1 to 5 years and you are correct, they barely mention diabetes alert dogs.
I will add one more thing on here because I don't see another place for it. Since starting to read about DADs online, I have been really bugged by a pet peeve. Since way back in the 1960's, I have always let folks know that the word "diabetic" is an adjective. So to say that the trainer trains 'diabetic alert dogs' means that the dogs themselves have diabetes. I am surprised that a bunch of diabetics (I have no problem with the word describing myself) have not told these trainers that the proper term is "Diabetes Alert Dogs." Or perhaps more accurately "BG Alert Dogs."
I thank everyone for their good advice. Thus far, the closest trainer to me is the VA Beach one that charges 20k for a finished dog. That is indeed a lot of money and it would be a big chunk of retirement for me. I think I fall into the "have too much to ask for a fundraiser but only enough that it would be a significant sacrifice from my retirement."
Especially thanks for the alerts about how difficult it can be to train for the public access part of the training. The trainers say "oh, yes you can do it." But of course, they don't know me so it is hard to judge.
Do not give up, if you have the time and energy, this can be done. Find a reputable service dog trainer, most do not ,yet, do Diabetes Alert Dogs. Just get the obedience and public access part down. If diabetes has slowed you down, consider allowing a qualified animal behaviorist help you select a shelter, rescue, adult dog. Some resuce outfits have the dogs fostered with families, so they come house trained and with house manners, it is a good start. With diabetic neuropathy you do not want to be chasing after a puppy.
When you get a good start with a carefully selected rescue adult dog, then, ( some rescue dogs come spayed and with all their shots up to date (savings$$) Figure 300 to 600 to adopt the right dog. Then, secure the DAD training instructions, Scott Smith has a video set, (not sure of the cost). There is also a Mary McNIght, in the northwest who has a training program you can purchase.
I can not speak for either trainers training products. Check Diabetes Daily and other diabetes social sites. There are blog s on some of them by sucessful diabetics who have trained there own DAD. Just do It !!
one more question please. How could I have forgotten this?
One trainer, Scott, told me not to get a DAD as long as I have a dog already. I have a senior Scottie, 11 yrs 4 months. A Scottie Terrier, no pun intended!! Their average lifespan is 10 to 12 years. He is fairly healthy but with a less than healthy liver. Scott said the DAD needs to be the center of attention for the diabetic. And recall, I live alone so I cannot nor would I want to ignore my Casey.
Do any of those with a DAD also have another dog or is that a definite no-no?
This goes back to my statement about folks considering a Service Dog to not be a real dog. That trainer is one of those folks.
Yes, it is fine to have another dog while also having a Service Dog. The issue is ensuring the dog bonds to YOU, not one of the other dogs. Or gets so involved with another dog, that he/she misses the cue and warning signs. This means slightly more intense and focused training but it can be done. You'll need to make sure training sessions are just the two of you with as little distractions as possible. You can then add distractions to firm up her training. Because out in the real world, it's never a perfect situation.
When I was first training Joella, we had at that point a total of five dogs. At first, I worked with her alone. Once she got to understanding the training and learning faster, I kept the one or two of the dogs in with us for distraction purposes. She had problems at first but then narrowed her focus down to just me. I slowly added the rest of the dogs and it worked.
For the record, I do not have a DAD. I had a "regular" owner-trained Service Dog, though, a Rottie named Joella. She was my constant companion for 12 yrs until she died just died a few weeks ago. I miss her greatly (and is probably why I am extra sensitive about them being dogs, not robots). I have another dog I was training to "replace" her and he and I continue working. Joella could be in mid-play, see or hear me drop something, come running over, pick it up, throw it at me, and get right back to playing. Mike will see me drop something, come running over, pick it up, but will carry it back to the "playing field" and leave it there. He's a nut but he'll figure it out. He's still in-training.
Sorry to hear of your loss. We lost both our "pet" dogs in the past year.
Although I have only had and been working with my first service dog for 9 months now, I know there will be a difficult parting in the years to come. Why did God make mans best friend with such a different life span, than man?
For now we fosus on bonding and training. This dog is quite the family dog, something, I do not think you can not teach. She took to my granddaughters right off.
Keep looking up, Mike will get it.
That is kind of what I thought. I also don't want to feel that I am "waiting" for my 11 yo doggie to die. I want him to live as long as possible!
It is hard to lose pets. It does feel like losing family, though in a different way.
The thing with training dogs no matter what the training is, is understanding their motivation. Joella could care less about food. I had to work hard to come up with something to use (pieces of paper and later I found out she loved cheese). Mike however, is so very food motivated, that's all he focuses on. I have to be careful that he knows to do a task whether I have a treat or not. Each dog is an individual so the training has to be flexible to take that into account.
So if you get one and you have another dog already living there, you can't train with the other dog in the room. Their focus will be on the treat because of the perceived competition. That can, though, work in your favor! I've been trying to get Mike to put his feet up in my lap but he wouldn't. The treat wasn't worth getting over his caution over the chair. I was working on that and our other dog (we have just two now, so weird) was in the room. As soon as he showed interest, Mike was all "MY treat!" and he started putting his feet up. Two sessions later and he will do it both on verbal prompt and me patting my leg.
Whether you get a dog already trained or you do your own, the training never ends and is constantly evolving. But so does the fun!
I can see that it is a constant occupation. I only hope I have the discipline to do it. That is why I need a trainer to start the dog and me.
Check out the nonprofit outfits in your area that train guide dogs. Sometimes they have dogs that have basic training, but wash out as guide dogs. That dog could be a good starter dog.
You have to spend the time on the DAD part, personally. It is not physically difficult to do. It is repetitive and time consuming. Your dog will need time to bond with you. There is a good book called "Leader of the Pack" that is wonderful reading for anyone who needs the basics of wolf (dog) behavior. Luck, be always with you.