A Day in the Life of a Dogs4Diabetics Grad
In a post earlier this month, Susan Millhollon told us about the valuable work Dogs4Diabetics (D4D) is doing with their Medical Assistance Diabetic Alert Dogs and people living with diabetes. Susan also shared an inspiring story of a 12-year-old boy, Carter Persily, and his dog, Herman. Herman is trained to alert on the chemical scent of a change in blood sugar level, and he even alerted on Carter during our interview with him, signaling the need for a test. Today, I have the pleasure of sharing more about this great pair.
Carter’s mother, Eva, first heard about D4D in March of 2010 when Carter was newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and wasn’t yet eligible for the program. In the meantime, Eva was so enthusiastic about the organization that she and Carter got involved with guide dogs for the blind and began fundraising for D4D.
“To have your life turned upside down so quickly and then have your child find the friendship that comes with a dog is truly amazing,” Eva said.
After being in the guide dog system for over a year, Carter completed his D4D application and started the program on his 12th birthday. Carter completed over 100 hours of training last year, and on the day of the final D4D certification, Herman alerted on Carter.
It was an emotional experience for everyone, including Eva, who said, “That was the first time I witnessed a dog alerting on my son. I was bawling.”
It wasn’t until after the final certification that Carter learned that Herman would be permanently paired with him and become his new best friend. “That is a really good memory that I have with him,” Carter recalled.
Carter explains that he had to get comfortable living with a dog 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like most kids his age, he is very active and enjoys skateboarding, playing basketball and swimming. The pair is a perfect match, as Herman loves to play tug-of-war, play with a ball in the backyard and even swim. Like a good teammate, Herman sits attentively on the sidelines – or the side of the pool – never letting Carter out of his sight. Herman has even alerted on Carter by jumping into the pool and pawing at him.
Eva described it by saying, “It’s a special friendship and bond, and the kids have someone else there looking out for them 24 hours a day. You can’t put a price tag on it.”
But, daily life is no walk in the park. On an average day, Herman will alert on Carter four to five times, which signals Carter to test his blood sugar. In public, Herman is a service dog and can’t have any distractions, and Carter consistently explains to everyone, including his friends, that Herman cannot be bothered.
“People can only pet him in public if he alerts correctly on my blood sugar,” Carter said. However, Carter believes this is a small price to pay for Herman’s companionship and abilities. “It’s really fun to have him with me all the time. My friends think it is really cool that I have a dog with me. And, I feel a lot more comfortable with my blood sugars.”
Thanks to Herman, Eva also feels more comfortable. Since Carter was diagnosed, sleeping through the night has always been a challenge for Eva. However, Herman’s presence has significantly helped improve her sleep over the last seven months.
“The first night alert was unbelievable,” Eva said. “It’s a feeling you can’t even describe, and it hasn’t stopped since.” If Herman is unable to wake Carter in the middle of the night, he goes into Eva’s room to notify her and her husband.
“These dogs are a wonderful thing, and that’s why we fundraise for D4D,” Eva said. “If we can help one more mom sleep or help one more child feel confident that they can go swimming or play basketball, then it’s worth it. Herman is Carter’s best friend and part of our family now.”
The Dogs4Diabetics dogs are truly amazing! I’d like to thank Eva and Carter for taking the time to share their story and giving our readers a feel for a day in the life of the Persily family.
All the best,
Disclosure: Carter and Eva Persily received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.