© Paws for Diabetics Inc, 2006 - 2013. ABN 26 994 694 733
Owner: Jessica McLeod-Yu
Fully Accredited Assistance Dog
My name is Jessica, and I am 15 years old. I’ve had diabetes – type 1 since I was 10 years old.
As I get older I want more independence, but, my parents have difficulty allowing that since I often have trouble with my Blood Glucose Levels.
When my Mum read about "Paws for Diabetics Inc." last year, she was very excited.
I got my beautiful little black and tan Chihuahua puppy last year, her name is "Lily". I choose her when she was one-week old, and I was able to collect her when she was six-weeks old. My Mum left an old T-Shirt, so she we would be familiar when she came home with us. She was about 10 weeks old when my mum started noticing that she was alerting, she was very excited. We contacted “Paws for Diabetics Inc.” to see if they could help us train her, so Gail Armstrong and her daughter Cathy came over and met us and eventually we were accepted into the program.
Lily is the greatest four legged friend I could have. She sleeps with me and when I am low she nibbles my fingers, if I don’t wake up she goes and jumps all over my mum to get her attention. One day my mum was downstairs when I was having a hypo, so Lily brought me some biscuits (doggy biscuits). My mum thought that was very sweet. I take her with me almost everywhere, and she behaves very well. She will stay in her bag when I eat and she never begs.
She is still in training and she doesn’t always get it right, and she is mischievous, but she’s on her way to making me independent.
People often ask us what does Lily do for Jessica; but until see it - it’s hard for outsiders to believe.
Lily goes with us to church all the time and other church goers often comment that she is better behaved than many of the children. But within the last two weeks Lily has alerted in front of people who are now amazed at her “ability”. During one of the Easter Mass’ Lily was lying in her basket at Jessica’s feet when I am told by others around Lily who was sleeping suddenly awoke and started licking Jessica’s hand. I guess Jessica didn’t react fast enough, so Lily started crawling under the chairs pulling on her lead to get to me; she got to me and started jumping at my feet and trying to nip my finger tips. My first reaction was that she was bored and wanted a cuddle; but as you know these loving creatures have their own way of communication. She was so uncontrollably excited that my next thought was that I should check on Jessica. I turned around (because she was in a different section of the choir to me) and I could see her eyes looking so lethargic. I immediately told her to check her BGL; and no surprise, she was having a hypo. She immediately had a drink to bring her levels back up. During this time Lily had left me and gone back to Jessica and very calmly went back to her basket. The people around her were amazed at how she reacted and then how once she was convinced that Jessica was dealing with her hypo she behaved in such a calm manner.
I was so happy that she alerted in public – she was so proud of herself, as was I!!!
She alerted at church AGAIN last night!!! This time I wasn’t sitting in her area but was on the alter. Lily tried alerting to my Mum (Jessica’s Grandmother), but she’s not used to knowing what to look for – Lily got frustrated enough that she decided to leave where they were sitting and headed in my direction (on the alter).... Mum now thinking that Lily was being naughty asked Jessica to calm her down only to discover that Jessica was already having a drink and was indeed having a hypo!! Mum then felt guilty that she hadn’t paid attention to what she was trying to tell her and had to over compensate the praise!!! It was a sight to see (Mum is from the old school – dogs shouldn’t lick you in the face – although she is aware that she and Jessica have a very special relationship). Well, Lily was very well rewarded for doing her job so well.
Mum described what happened as we left the church; as we walked behind Jessica and Lily both walking so proud and with Lily’s tail as usual waving very proudly.
Update January 22, 2013
There has been so much happening in Jessica’s life since our last update.
Jessica has now left High School and is experiencing the world. Jessica had a gap year where she stayed about 9 months in Tokyo Japan studying in a Japanese High School before attending the University of Newcastle. During her time in Japan, she lived with a very nice Japanese family who still keep in contact with her.
While Jessica was in Japan, I had the job of looking after a lonely little Chiuaua Lily. She suffered separation anxiety to the extent that she would not let me out of her sight when I was around! I made sure that I kept familiar smells for her and Jessica spoke with her a few times a week! When I say that, what I mean is that I would be speaking to Jessica and Lily would hear, then all I’d hear were the sound of little racing feet on the floorboards as Lily raced to the iphone to see Jessica and lick the phone clean! Such is the bond they share.
I also had to make sure I kept Lily’s training going; both obedience as well as her public access. I’d take her to church regularly to visit the people that she was comfortable with. So I was not surprised when Jessica returned to Sydney the first night that Lily alerted her to a hypo.
New South Wales has never encouraged students with alert dogs to attend school- so Jessica has never taken Lily to school; although they go lots of places together.
As I write, Jessica is now experiencing a whole new world. She was granted a scholarship which she took up today at the Universite au Technologic du Troyes which is in Paris France!
And once again Lily is on the sofa with me counting zzz’s!! she’s spoken to Jessica this evening so she’s happy.
You may wonder why Jessica would need an alert dog when clearly she travels without her. Well apart from the quarantine issues, which would affect a small dog greater than a bigger dog consideration must be made for the culture of those Jessica would be around.
Suffice to say, there was a time when a beautiful young girl was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes. The diagnoses was enough to change her world both mentally and physically. She was very shy and conscious of being treated differently to her peers and by her peers.
Jessica missed out on the treats the other students got and because she had to go to the staff room to give herself her lunchtime needles, she missed out on so much of the social element at school.
Diabetes is a hidden disease which affects so many people. You could be sitting having an intelligent discussion in class and within 10 minutes be walking around disoriented! While this has happened to Jessica on many occasions including attending the wrong class because she had a low blood sugar.
Then along came a spirited little puppy who seemed to know when she needed help even before Jessica knew she needed it!
Yes- Jessica now travels the world and is gaining new experiences.
Lily and Jessica met when they both needed someone. Lily got a new momma and Jessica got someone who allowed her to be herself and try new things but who helped her without a great deal of fuss. By Jessica having to take care of Lily she learned to take care of herself. Jessica learned to trust herself and have confidence in herself.
While Jessica is away it’s not smooth sailing. She intentionally keeps her sugar higher than she should so she knows she’ll be safe. Many people may comment on this, but Jessica knows what works for her.
So, here I am sitting nervously waiting until my daughter is back closer to home. But knowing the bond that she had with her good friend is what allowed her to be where she is now!
Like I said diabetes is a hidden disease which affects each person in different ways. No matter what, its not fun to see the lackluster look in someone’s eyes as their sugar starts going down, but the joy of knowing that they have a special friend who looks after them. Jessica’s independence comes in the form of a 3.9 kilo Chiuaua, but that little princess thinks she’s a Doberman. You never know where a person’s strength comes from.
No matter where Jessica goes, she always comes home to her good friend Lily who’s always there waiting for her!