Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DADs for Dummies takes a look in the mirror

I have been writing for some time, without even owning a DAD. WHAT?! Oh yes. I speak of what I do not know...until now.

From 2012 until now I hoped my writing efforts would allow the "noob" (newcomer in gamer terms) grasp the ideas surrounding what this whole things looks like, from a "getting committed" standpoint.

I also wanted to find organizations outside ones we had experienced personally, because we had been with a well- known CA organization for nearly a year. Committed, fully funded. We then worked with a service dog organization that allowed our Type 1 teenager, Sean, to handle over a dozen of their dogs, learning valuable skills that would translate into his own experience someday.

What is unique about our situation is that we have an adolescent who was diagnosed at 11; he went from a "kid" to a "mini-adult" within that first year of diagnosis. Because we lost our family's best friend a month later to Type 1 complications, we gave a lot of the responsibility back to Sean. He did his own shots before leaving the hospital, and has carried his bag of supplies, since. We know first hand what DKA, (diabetic keto-acidosis from high blood sugar levels), coma and death look like, so we wanted him to take as much appropriate responsibility for his own life.  

This mentality translated into our son's DAD experience, too. Since Sean was told not to bond or get attached to any dogs with one org, (although we were around their dogs at various events), he did just that. The idea of a certain dog may have been nice, but since he had none, I'd guess there might have been a perceived "lack of interest" from Sean. The same perspective might have also carried over, regarding my level of desired participation. (These are just my humble opinions looking back). 

We wanted this to be HIS dog, HIS desire, and HIS responsibility. We have reasonable expectations on our kids. We had them close together, and I am disabled myself, so there is a lot of personal responsibility in our home. We are the parents, 24/7, and are preparing our kids to fly from the nest someday. I had already done the math... Sean had 5 years until he would leave home. That's nothing. His disease management + DAD had to be off to a good start...

The dog handling classes Sean took with our last organization were priceless. He/we were all given "Service Dog 101" knowledge. These are the words/commands to use- and why... It was eye-opening and we learned more in 5-6mo/2 nights a month than imagined. Now we really knew what this was going to look like.

The key piece missing now was bond. Sean had not enjoyed the immense shedding from labradors. The level of hair to manage was new to us, since we have a Yorkie at home, and had a labradoodle at one time, as well. Sean and our labradoodle had an amazing bond. We (really me) thought a hypoallergenic DAD would be a great solution to this, and my "mommy-(thinks she)- knows-best, mentality got in the way of Sean's Journey. (Even tho when 11 he SAID had wanted a "fluffy" as he called it- he he).

It all came to a stop when we realized our son really had no interested in a curly-haired poodle named Brulee. He was going on 14 within the year, already thinking ahead to High School, and picturing the rugby field with his team mates. Though this cutie pie dog was a definite chick-magnet and soon to be his, we decided it best to go back to the drawing board. There was too much at stake. Thousands of dollars (as much as a new vehicle), friends and family waiting on us...We had another "sit down" and realized our son needed the dog he was going to fall in love with. He needed to name it. He needed to choose it. He is his own man now, and this was his journey, after-all.

Finally this month we are "Ready to Fly!" Our DAD has been home with us 2 weeks for bonding, and goes on to live with a professional DAD trainer soon. Just in these few weeks the bond between Sean and "Flint" is undeniable. We have all come alongside our son, assisting him when needed with Flint; but he is all over it this round. It may have been a long and dramatic road to travel to get us to "just a puppy" but it is what needed to happen for Sean, as this is all about him, and what was going to work best for our family.

The Facebook "DAD world" is a wonderful place to network and find good advice. It is also a terrible place sometimes, and may be severely catty if/when you got a bulls-eye on your back. Now that we are finally "in the thick of it" I've promised to put the focus back on Sean and his dog. Coz I'm mom, afterall. I will miss what I perceived as being helpful to this community online, and apologize for my lack of a proper goodbye in some of my own groups. 

I do love to share and write, so I have launched for those in our lives who have truly partnered in spirit with us. I will keep writing here, at times, so please "follow" this blog, or check in as often as you want! It's not about me, it's about you, it's about Sean... it's about our Type 1 community and these dogs. 

Anna Booth
(mom, wife, writer and homeschooler of the most amazing 4 gingers I know)
Interested in a Diabetic Alert Dog? please check out this link on "How to Get a Dog"



  1. Aww, that made me cry. I'm so happy for Sean and Flint. It's so nice to see him happy and bonding with his perfect dog.

    1. Thanks Valerie- You've been watching and waiting with us since the beginning! Thank you for staying in touch~