Afflicted with Type 1 Diabetes for seventeen years, I had slowly lost the ability to sense my low blood sugars. This had resulted in three early morning emergency visits from paramedics and the local fire department, as well as ensuing visits to the hospital. Sure, my kids were thrilled to have these local heroes in their midst, but we knew that being on a first-name basis with this crew had to end.
This brief backdrop is not intended for pity; conversely, it’s provided to give a sense of just how blessed I am.
In the summer of 2010, I attended training classes at D4D and was paired with Lotto, an intelligent, disciplined and loving Golden Retriever. Since Lotto and I have been teamed together, not only have there been no emergency visits, but also, with Lotto’s sensitivity, I rarely dip into the cavern of confusion associated with hypoglycemia. Under Lotto’s watchful nose, my physical and emotional well-being has improved. He has been my coveted companion, at my side at home and out in public. I’m very bonded to Lotto and his alerts have become quite trustworthy. He has alerted me at the most improbable times: just after eating, or fifteen minutes after testing and being in normal range. In the past, I would have had no inclination to check; however, with incredible consistency, he has been right.
At work, he is a calming presence in my middle school classroom. He is well loved and sometimes doubles as a therapy dog to reticent students, some whose lives are filled with innumerable challenges. He was at his best one day when he alerted on one of my students, a Type 1 Diabetic herself. Transferring from another school, it was her first day in class. After she got settled in and I had introduced her to her new classmates, Lotto was curiously eager to meet her. He continuously tried to get up out of his kennel position under my desk. After commanding him twice to get back beneath my desk, I gave in. He abruptly went over and alerted on our new student. With Lotto in tow, the three of us went out and she tested in the hallway. Her glucose level was seventy-nine and she had plenty of time to correct. I was all too happy to share Lotto’s gift with someone else.
In June of 2011, my seventeen-year-old son, Connor, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. After three days in the hospital, he was finally released and came home. Lotto alerted on him almost immediately. Connor was low and was able to treat. And without question, that was my favorite alert. At that moment, we felt a tremendous sense of relief from the tension that had consumed us over the previous days. My wife and I knew, without question, that all the care, all the love, all the devotion, and all the labor that was put into training this marvelous animal was now manifest in the simple truth and age-old story of a dog’s unconditional love and loyalty to his people.
Now, I have an almost indescribable contentment, and I’m blessed knowing that Lotto not only is on the lookout for me, but also for our son and other important people in my life. I am indebted to the D4D family and I have an overwhelming appreciation for this innovative organization.