Sunday, October 13, 2013

A (diabetic) man's best friend; SUGAR

Something I find significant to share in this industry is successful history. Considering how YOUNG DIABETIC ALERT DOG teams have been around, I am pleased to share this story with you.

"I had a low which I passed out and required an ambulance. This incident not only frightened me, but it really affected my wife. She was the one that witnessed the things that were happening while I was unconscious. I would wake at night to her asking me to check my sugar because I was breathing weird or making some strange noise. I was the diabetic, yet she was the one suffering most."
Around the time this happened, a friend of Jim's wife was in the process of getting a DAD and helped them get in touch with the "DAD world", which ultimately led them to Wildrose Kennels, located in Mississippi.
In Jan 2011, Jim had a 3-day visit with "Sugar." They trained together, and were taught many things that would help them become a successful team. Sugar was a 10 month old "started DAD", & Jim was given the option to take her home and continue training. His trainer, Rachel Thornton, would be a phone-call or email away at any time.  From this experience and observation over time, Jim says, 
"I think one of the most common mistakes (a person wanting a DAD could make) is thinking that the dog is finished with training. There is always something to work on. If you can realize this going into it, you have a much better chance of being successful."
Jim also notes (on training), "Obstacles change constantly. At first it was a proper heel. This takes much more time and effort than you would ever imagine. At one point I didn't think we would ever get it. I almost gave up, but was talked down by a great trainer, and at this point I am very happy with where we are with it."
Jim communicates his Diabetic Journey & (FB site) SUGAR through pictures and art scape in the streets of Philadelphia, and spends a lot of time learning and training. He is open and reveals, 
"Our current issue is with ignoring other dogs. we do well for a while and then someone allows their dog to jump on her and we start all over. It's hard for her to watch me while anticipating a dog jumping on her."

On the question of diabetes/DADs, and, "Why continue?" Jim answers, "The goal to live a long healthy life will never change, only the tools that are available will."
He includes, "Hopefully my positive outlook will change the feelings of someone that doesn't quite see the good in all of this. Wherever you are in this journey, I was once there too. Your hard work will pay off, and you will learn many things along the way."

Jim would like to see less drama in the DAD world and says, "We often forget the main goal of these DAD's is to save lives."

He is not visually impaired, and a healthy looking grown man with a service dog. Jim says, "This presents both problems and curiosity while in public."
If that's confusing in any way, please read--> "Is your DAD a seeing eye dog?"
And click Jim's common experience shared by friend/writer Meagan Esler on "DIABETES HEALTH"
editor's note: Jim and I got acquainted through a write up online about him and Sugar. As much as I'd like to finish this blog feature on him proud, he is one to do just fine on his own. (As you can see from the many quotes above!) So here is Jim's poem, read it slow- read it well, and don't hesitate to SHARE.

Struggle Stinks: by Jim Murray

This here is a rhyme, and at times a bit silly
about a child with diabetes, and a bully named Billy

Billy was big and smelled worse than a skunk
he was mean to everyone, the definition of a punk
He was mean to the girls and worse to the boys
you’d run when you saw him and hide all of your toys
Billy had a special hatred for me

He heard I was different, I had the big “D”
He came up and choked me I fell to my knees
told me he better not catch my diabetes
I said “you can’t catch it” as I gasped for a breath
He snarled “If I do I’ll beat you to death”
for years he abused me never easing a bit
pulling the chair out as I attempted to sit
A day without Billy was certainly rare
Twice I had my head shaved when he put gum in my hair

It was hard enough without Mr. Smelly
like counting my carbs and shots in my belly
The ups and the downs the highs and the lows
the unexplained numbers as my body grows
As I got older I decided to change
I’d workout and run to keep my sugars in range
I learned about foods and their affect on my body
I ran a 5k, and took some karate

Years had passed and my childhood faded
I almost forgot all of the pain he created
At the fair one summer while in line for a ride
I spotted old Billy with a boy by his side
He came over and said “remember me dude?”
I’m sorry I picked on you and acted so rude
He asked who my boy was I said “he’s my son”
He said “this is my boy, he’s also type 1″
We’re having some trouble controlling at night
by the looks of you you’re doing it right
Please tell me the secrets and share some advice
this month alone he’s been in the hospital twice
What is a carb? and how do I do it?
It’s a lot of work and I already blew it
I can’t work his pump, I’m really not sure
I just bought some cinnamon, I heard it’s a cure.

I pulled my sons hand,” MOVE” I mumbled
I bumped into Billy so hard he had stumbled
I walked away angry, bitter and rude
I’m proud of myself for not crushing that dude
The things he had done I’ll never forget
Not in front of the kids though, that I’d regret
I could beat up Billy, and I was beating the D
But if I walk away from that kid I’d be defeating me.

It’s not very often that I lose my cool
my son said, “I recognize that boy from school”
He said that he’s younger, he sees him outside
but there’s this bully that pushes him off of the slide
he always bugs that kid, he’s really relentless
he is so much bigger, that young kid is defenseless
He thought of a nice way to make sure he doesn’t
he lied to the bully, told him that boy is his cousin.
My boy knew that kid was type 1 like me
We headed back in to help out Billy

We hung out that night me, Billy, and boys
played lots of games and won tons of toys
Billy explained why he smelled like a skunk
He had no running water and his dad was a drunk
“But your house was so nice, it was big and red”
He said “my mom was the maid, we lived in the shed”
He told me he’s sorry for all the things that he did
Now I realize how lucky i was when I was a kid
Some important things I learned in this life of mine
Is to work very hard and always be kind
help those you can, forgive those you hate
the more heart you pour in the better your fate.
You’re rewarded for all of the good that you do
In one form or another it comes back to you

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