I met Fleur in January 2013 at a team orientation weekend hosted by Early Alert Canines. I didn't know that she would be my dog, but I felt drawn to her. Her bouncy energy, even whilst working, intrigued me and I could tell that if we were placed together, we could do some amazing things. They tell you not to get attached to any individual dog during training, but I was ecstatic when I found out that I would be placed with Fleur.
Our journey from team training to charting (any older SD team will understand this!) to graduation and beyond had its frustrations, but I am proud of the team that Fleur and I are today. Even more so, I am beyond proud of the service dog that Fleur has grown into - without losing her characteristic puppy energy.
If I wrote down all of the things that Fleur has done to help me - to serve me - since that team training, you would be reading a novel. I will sum it up by saying this: she has stuck by my side through the final 2 years of my undergraduate education, my first full-time job, the entirety of my master's education (complete with two cross-country moves), and countless trips to new places. Oh, and she became bilingual while we attended a Spanish immersion program! Over the past 6 and a half years, she has amazed me daily with her persistent alerting, catching my BG changes before I even know that something is amiss. The more I struggle with diabetes management, the more on point Fleur is. We have a way of communicating that surpasses a spoken language. Someone recently asked me how my life has changed since getting placed with Fleur. It is more than pawed alerts and cheerio treats; I have become accustomed to the way that Fleur watches me and communicates her worry. I can't describe it, but the small things that she does - unnoticeable by the general public - tell me what is going on with my body and my BG.
I owe all of this to Early Alert Canines. They do not just place service dogs, shake hands, and move on. EAC has been there for Fleur and I whenever we needed help with training, with alerting, or with career advice. I admit, I was probably not the "ideal" person looking to be placed with a diabetes alert dog. As a rising junior in undergrad, I was not only living a busy life, but supplemented my academics by playing in the marching band. Nevertheless, EAC worked with me to figure out if I could incorporate a service dog into my life. From there, when I declared (somewhat nervously) to Carol Edwards that I wanted to attend nursing school, she did not throw her hands up in exacerbation for yet another tough situation that would likely not welcome a service dog with open arms. Instead, we worked together to try to anticipate some roadblocks and come up with solutions. Now, as I prepare to enter my first job as a Nurse Practitioner, I feel confident that Fleur will once again take everything in stride, and we will pave the way for future SD teams in healthcare.
Join me in supporting this amazing organization. The time, effort, and care that they put into training and placing service dogs is priceless, but they need so much support so that they can continue to do this incredible work.
This year their annual walk has a fundraising goal of $35,000 — the cost of training and supporting one service dog. Join us in supporting EAC at their 2 Feet • 4 Paws • 1 Cause Walk!