She began by just coming to the last period of the day, each class period is 45 minutes long. Now she’s coming to two class periods and I’d like to increase it to three before school is over. I’ve been bringing scent swatches to school to practice alerting, rather than asking her to live alert to a stranger in a new environment. I have to be pretty obvious with it at this point, but am hoping once she realizes that alerting is fun at school too, she will improve. My biggest challenge is the low parties. I think I may have to ask to leave the classroom to reward her since we can’t have an exciting enough low party while the teacher lectures without being a huge distraction. As she gets practice and gains confidence, hopefully we will be able to party quietly in class with a little less excitement, but for now I need to focus on making alerting in school just as exciting as alerting at home.
Her alerting at home is fantastic and we are working on “Show me”. This morning we did a scent session and she did really well. I gave my mom a swatch to put in her hand, then let Suzie in. I must have made a mistake and accidentally gotten some spit on my hand because as soon as I let her in, she started pulling the bringsel from my belt loop. She jumped on me, and I asked her to sit and paw me politely, then I took the bringsel from her and asked her to “show me”. While not exactly crisp, she did a great job of searching for the source of the scent. Within 30 seconds she realized it was in my mom’s hand on the couch and began scratching at it. We then had a huge party with ½ a jar of baby food, lots of scratching behind the ears, some ham, more petting, a cheesestick, and more loving. I’m trying to make sure that low parties are the best thing that has ever happened to her to keep her excited about alerting.
Also, yesterday morning the owner of a pup I was training came to take the pup home. They were there for a while and as we were by the door talking before they left, Suzie started to pull a bringsel off the front door. They asked what the thing on the door was – meaning the bringsel – and I told them what it was. With the bringsel in her mouth, Suzie walked among the four of us - the couple picking up their pup, my mom, and me. Suzie stopped in front of me and I thought she was about to jump up to finish the alert chain, but she didn’t. She instead went over to the wife and jumped on her – full body alert. She was very adamant who it was. The couple then said that they hadn’t eaten anything all day, so it was very likely she was a low. I didn’t feel right asking the lady if I could stick a needle in her finger to make her bleed, so I gave Suzie the benefit of the doubt and rewarded her. While I don’t know for sure that the woman was low, Suzie was very sure of herself, and I’d rather reward her for a wrong alert than not reward her for a correct one. What was really exciting was this was the first time Suzie jumped on the person she thought was low – she has always jumped on me to alert. If she can do this consistently, I think it will be a huge help to her permanent family because they will know if she is alerting to the T1d , or if she is alerting to someone else.
Lastly, Suzie is now considered “Available”. She will not be able to go to her new home until late July or August as I’d like to make sure she has as solid foundation as possible since she is considered a “started DAD”. But, now that she is successfully alerting and we are working on crisping things up, I feel she is ready to be put up for adoption. I don’t have strict rules on the location of the new family, but I would like them to be within a 3-4 hour drive of either Lexington or Philadelphia. I’d like the new owners to be relatively close to me in case issues arise and so that we can work together during the transition phase with Suzie. I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia next year, so if the new owners were within driving distance to there, we could work together while I’m at school, and if they are near Lexington, we can work together while I’m out of school.
If you or anyone you know is interested in Suzie, you can visit the “Available D.A.D.s” page to read more about Suzie. Or you can contact me. I highly recommend researching DADs to see if one would be a good fit for you, but I believe that in many instances they can do great things to help keep their T1D safe.