There are a lot of questions to ask before obtaining a Diabetic Alert Dog. Here are even more frequently asked questions for you to browse.
Again, if these do not fully answer your questions or you have questions that we have not addressed, please contact us so we can help you with this very important decision~!
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Where can I take my DAD?: Your DAD is a service dog. Per the American Disabilities Act (ADA), your DAD is allowed in any business or organization that serve the public and they must allow your DAD in any area of the facility where customers are usually allowed to go. Diabetes is a disability under this law. Your DAD can accompany you in grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, airlines, schools, health clubs, shopping malls, salons and public transportation. Your DAD will have a service vest with distinguishing patches as well as an ID card. These items are not required by law but they can help you to make public access easier and avoid stressful conflicts. The only place they can keep a dog out is in the operating room!!
Does having a DAD mean I won't have to check my blood sugar as often?: On the contrary my friend! Having a DAD will require you to test more often than most. Along with the usual times that you check, you will also be required to check every time your dog alerts you. A DAD is NOT a replacement for your meter and should never be relied upon as your only tool to manage your diabetes!
Can I cuddle, pet and play with my DAD?: Absolutely, this is a must! This creates a bond between you and your dad and he or she needs love and affection in exchange for working for you! There are restrictions to this that we will discuss as this is not your typical pet but YES!!!
Can other people pet and play with my dog?: Your DAD is on duty 24/7 to sniff out your blood sugar levels. An acquaintance, stranger or visitor may not know how to interact appropriately with a service dog as to not distract him from his job. We discourage this type of interaction but will go into it in further detail during your training. There are proper ways, times and places for this to occur.
What if I already have another dog, can I still have a DAD?: This depends on the situation. Our DADs are raised around other DADs, pet dogs, cats, livestock, birds and even wildlife. The deciding factor depends on your other dog. Does your other dog show aggression towards strange dogs? Does the other dog have bad habits such as destructive behavior, chewing, excessive barking, house training issues, guarding, digging, counter surfing or health problems? These types of problems can distract from your service dog and teach your DAD bad behaviors. We suggest that you work with a trainer in your area to stop these behaviors prior to applying for a DAD.
Can I purchase Health Insurance for my DAD?: We encourage this as we have it on our own dogs even though Ray is a veterinarian and we have used it!!! We will be happy provide recommendations to you.
Can I purchase life insurance for my DAD?: Yes, it is costly but life insurance is available through Mourer Foster.
Can I take my DAD to work?: The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" to disabled persons to mitigate their disability. Service dogs fall into this category. Of course, each work condition is different. Certain work conditions would be a difficult environment to justify a service dog as reasonable accommodation. For example, a construction worker, chef, waiter or other fast paced difficult environment would not be the place for a service dog. We will work with you to decide if a service dog is right for you.
Can my child take the DAD to school?: There are a lot of factors that must go into this decision and is one that your trainer and the parent should discuss in detail. If the handler is over the age of 16 then ultimately, it is the decision of the parent, so YES, the dog can but is it the best for your child and the dog? This is to be determined. Under the age of 16 the handler is NOT allowed to take the dog to school under our policies.
How Accurate are DADs?: DADs are trained to be incredibly accurate but again, these are not machines. They are not perfect and will miss some alerts. Your DAD should be considered an extremely important back up tool to your normal diabetes management tools. It is imperative that you keep in contact with your trainer. A high level of attentiveness is required of the handler to make the partnership a success. Right away you can expect a 70% + accuracy but the more you bond with your DAD the higher that percentage climbs! You must be willing to put in the time and follow our guidelines for your DAD to quickly obtain a 99% accuracy!
Where do I start and how do I get on the list?: Lone Star Diabetic Alert Dogs, L.L.C. is now accepting applications. Please see the apply tab above. To be considered you must be an insulin dependent diabetic using insulin for a minimum of one year. Candidates must be currently managing their diabetes diligently. Our DADs are not for people that are not taking control of their diabetes on their own. Having diabetes is hard enough, you need to know your condition and how to manage it well before you even consider a DAD. The application process is multi-level including an application, phone interview, a possible home visit and orientation (a visit at our facility). We will be checking references, asking some medical questions, speaking to your veterinarian if you have one and interviewing all members of the household. There is no charge to apply. We encourage you to ask all questions that you may have prior to making application so that we can do our best to point you in the right direction.
What happens once I am approved?: We will welcome you to the family! We will begin our journey to getting to know each other very well! We will have several follow up phone and/or skype conferences. We will discuss the finances and work out a plan with you. We will sign a contract and let you know the expected time your dog will be available. You will place a non-refundable deposit to assure your place on our waiting list. We will discuss in detail your training, record keeping, required certifications and we will ask that you send us scent samples. Please be aware that you must pay any associated cost of travel such as food, additional lodging, airfare etc.
Are any of these expenses considered write-offs?: We can happily say YES to this one! All expenses related to your DAD are tax deductions! Cost of the dog, food, training, travel to get the dog, supplies, etc.
I am still not sure I understand the importance of a DAD. Isn't all I have to do is prick my finger to see if I am high or low?: Diabetes management has come a long way over the past sixty years. Life expectancy projections have drastically increased for people with insulin dependent diabetes (aka, juvenile diabetes mellitus or Type 1 diabetes. Insulin pens, ID bracelets and even tattoos, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and sensitive blood testing kits (meters) have drastically reduced instances of long term complications in insulin dependent diabetics. Most of the testing equipment, however, relies on accurate and continuous input from the diabetic which is only reliable when the person is awake, alert and thinking about it. There are even the human and mechanical errors that can also mitigate the efficacy of the tools. High blood sugar levels although not necessarily an immediate threat to the diabetic, can have serious consequences on a diabetic's health over time.
A DAD will alert you to an impending shift in your blood sugar levels, sometimes 15 minutes prior to a rise or drop. This gives you plenty of time to treat the problem before it becomes serious. DADs alert 24/7, under most any condition, anywhere at any time. DADs will even wake you or even someone else in the household during the night when necessary. This alert takes a huge weight off the shoulders of diabetics and caretakers/parents of diabetics by enabling them to treat faster before the blood levels result in uncomfortable symptoms, eventual debilitation and is an invaluable tool in a diabetics’ efforts to achieve and continue to have optimal blood sugar levels and in many cases this is can be a lifesaving alert!