Successful Pawtners

Lindy & Alex
Ross & Rocky
Joseph & Delta
Alice and Lance
Wayne & Maisey
Tony & Chip
Missy & Faith
MacKenzie & Happy

Helping is not our job. It's our passion!
We specialize in Diabetic Alert Dogs & Seizure Alert/Response Dogs
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Successful Pawtners - Joel and Kelsie

My name is Joel Shiflet and I live in southwestern Ohio. I have had type 1 diabetes for the last 48 years. Over the course of my lifetime I have had the normal struggles that all diabetics experience with the disease. I have always been a brittle diabetic and my blood sugars would fluctuate quickly. As a result of the ever changing blood sugars and the years of the disease, I have lost significant vision in my right eye and had to have a kidney transplant in 2001. As if this wasn’t enough, I was having trouble recognizing low blood sugar onset otherwise known as hypoglycemic unawareness. Over the course of a day, I would have five to six low blood sugars and some of the blood sugars would get as low as 30mg/dl. I work in a paper mill and am around moving equipment and this became more and more of a concern for my employer, my family and I.

My Endocrinologist attempted to control the situation by adjusting the basal rates on my pump but nothing seemed to help. Finally, the doctor recommended that I consider a diabetic alert dog. I have to admit, that at first I did not believe that a dog could tell me when my blood sugars were getting low. My wife strongly encouraged me to pursue the option. Heaven Scent Paws was recommended and I contacted them by email and phone. The response was immediate and the application process was simple. I elected to do the self- train program and got Kelsie in February of 2006.

Kelsie started alerting almost immediately and has been an excellent help with warning me about low blood sugars. She currently is catching 85 to 90 percent of all of them. She has made a big difference in keeping my blood sugars from going too low. Since I received Kelsie in February, I have had only one low blood sugar that fell below 35mg/dl. This in itself is amazing. But even more amazing was the time just this last summer when I went outside for a few minutes to work on hanging a water hose reel on the side of the house. The weather was nice outside and my wife had the windows and doors open to allow the breeze to air out the house. I had left Kelsie in the house and she was lying by her spot on her rug in the kitchen by the sliding screen door which was approximately 30 to 40 feet from where I was working. The job took a little longer than I had expected and after a short while my wife came out onto the deck and asked me if I was having a low blood sugar. I felt fine and told her that I didn’t think that I was. She stated that Kelsie had suddenly gotten up and was running back and forth along the side of the house where I was working. After she decided that she was unable to get to me to alert she started to alert my wife. I came in and ran a blood sugar and sure enough, it was low.

On another occasion I had mowed the grass and needed to take a shower while my wife, Connie was fixing supper. I had gone to the other end of the house and had gone into the master bedroom and had closed the doors and had gone into the master bath and had closed those doors as well. I had been in the shower for a couple of minutes when my wife came in and asked me if my blood sugar was low. Again, I tested and Kelsie had caught another low blood sugar. These instances are amazing. But they demonstrate the ability that these dogs have and the value that they provide.

In conclusion, I want everyone to understand that having any kind of service dog is not necessarily easy. Even service dogs are still dogs. They have to go outside to potty no matter whether it is sunny and warm, hot and humid, dark and rainy or very cold and snowing. They are a lot like taking a small child with you everywhere you go. They need constant attention when in public. Additionally, whenever you go anywhere, people will always be trying to pet your dog or ask you questions or making erroneous comments about the type of service dog it is. But the value that they have far outweighs the trouble or cost. Kelsie has been a real help with my diabetes management and has become a wonderful companion. I am glad I listened to my doctor, and more importantly to my wife, when I began this venture into a diabetic alert service dog. If you have question or concerns about what it is like living with a service dog, I would be glad to discuss it with anyone. If you are interested, email me at jshiflet@cinci.rr.com .

October 2006

 

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