Phoebe will be placed as a Diabetic Alert Dog with Sadie at ICAN's upcoming June 14th, 2018 Graduation. She will alert Sadie if she is having high or low blood sugars and will also get help if needed. In the following paragraph, Sadie shared with us the impact Phoebe will make in her life.
I first heard about ICAN and diabetes alert dogs when I was in middle school. A girl with Type 1 Diabetes had recently gotten a dog. Neither my mom nor I realized a dog could be trained to alert its owner of low blood sugar. At the time they were working with ICAN to train the dog, named Sadie, to wake up in the night and make sure she wasn’t low, but if she was, the dog would alert her so she could take steps to correct it. The dog even knew to go get someone if the owner would not respond. Mom and I talked about how much this could help me with my diabetes and even with the panic attacks I had started having. After meeting with ICAN they put me on the waiting list. About the time Mom was thinking it’s just not meant to be for Sadie, we got a call that ICAN was in our area and wanted to visit our home and make sure it was suitable for a big dog. My dad and I then met with ICAN to go over my needs as a diabetic.
When I first met Phoebe, I had not been told I would definitely get her, so I was having trouble getting excited about her because in the back of my mind it still wasn’t a sure thing. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. After informational emails and my Mom actually speaking with an ICAN team member, it was made clear to her that Phoebe would be mine, and I needed to plan for two weeks of training with Phoebe, and that my parents and sister would need to come for a couple days for training also. When my mom gave me the news, it didn’t quite feel real at first. But then, after mom kept talking about making plans for the training in June, it finally sunk in that this is for real and I got excited and scared at the same time.
Phoebe with her ICAN handler at the Indiana Women's Prison. (Left to Right: Phoebe brings her leash to Beanca; Phoebe is working on her cues by doing a nudge. Phoebe will alert Sadie with a strong ''nudge'' when her blood sugars begin to drop or become high.
Phoebe will forever change my life for the better. Once Phoebe settles into the home and gets acclimated to my living situation, I will have the option to live on college campus with Phoebe. Just having the option is huge for me. She will be my constant companion and will alleviate the daily worries of my blood sugar going too high or too low when I am with strangers. I never felt I had the option to move far away for college or to even attend a college that is close and live on campus because I would probably start having panic attacks again and not have help with my diabetes. I have been somewhat dependent on my family’s help and comfort with my blood sugars all my life and to not have that is huge. Phoebe may not be ready to go to class with me by August, but knowing she will soon accompany me everywhere I go makes me look forward to the future and not be quite so intimidated by it; because Phoebe will alert me before my blood sugars gets too low. She will also alert me to high blood sugars so I can get it down to normal range. I will no longer have to worry about going low if I want to take a walk because Phoebe will be there to help me should I go low, and comfort me so I don’t feel so alone during a low blood sugar episode. I believe we will form a bond and I will always have my best friend with me no matter where I go and this sounds like an amazing future I can look forward to. My life will have less stress and anxiety overall, which will lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Beanca is an ICAN Handler at the Indiana Women’s Prison. She has trained Phoebe since she was three months old teaching her Level 1 via 4 skills and a Diabetic Alert Dog (D.A.D.). When asked about her experience in training Phoebe this is what she shared with us:
”Phoebe and I are soul mates. Since the first time we locked eyes we knew we were destine to be together. Two souls that are normally loners were instantly drawn to each other, like we had already been connected for a life time.
Beanca & Phoebe
After I had major surgery over a year ago, she was the best care taker. I had to wear a neck brace and had a hard time bending over to get stuff and she knew what to do. If I took my clothes off, she picked them up before I could. Same with her food bowl, when she finished she would pick it up and hand it to me. She would even take my laundry bag full of clothes to the machine. She gave me what I needed: Independence.
She has excelled in diabetic scent and is going to be Sadie’s best friend. I think they will be like two peas in a pod. Phoebe will bless her with her quirky yet witty personality, make her laugh with her sense of humor and will make Sadie melt and give in to Phoebe’s baby face. And lastly, she will steal her heart with the love and comfort she gives.
I am happy to pass on such a wonderful girl so that someone else can experience the joy she can bring. Phoebe gave me independence during a time I needed it most and she has brought me pure joy. I know that Sadie will feel the same as me if not more.”
Please join us on June 14th to witness full circle when Phoebe's handler, Beanca, does the passing of the vest over to Sadie. The graduation takes place on Thursday, June 14th at the Indiana Women's Prison. It begins at 7pm and arrival time must be done between 6:15 and 6:45pm to allow time for security clearance.
There is no cost to attend, however, you must be 18 years or older and pre-registered.
To learn more and see photos from other ICAN Graduations, please visit ICAN Graduation.
DEADLINE TO REGISTER is JUNE 6th. PLEASE REGISTER by clicking here: Registration for June Graduation.
Photos (except for Sadie) by Liz Kaye Photography