On Jan.25,2008 our life changed forever- our then 13year old son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and hospitalized for 4 days. Our carefree existence was replaced with constant vigilence, sometimes six insulin injections a day and a sadness that our youngest child would have a tremendous burden to carry for the rest of his life. After attending a diabetes conference, I observed a diabetic alert dog that was able to respond to changes in the handler's blood sugar levels alerting her to check herself when she was out of her target range.From that moment forward I wanted to get a dog like this for Liam. On the internet,I located a woman who trained and placed German shepherds for diabetic alert work.
This is where it all began with me contacting Ron to ask for his advice and consultation with this German Shepherd service dog. Ron looked over the info and gave me some questions to ask of the breeder/trainer . When I emailed these questions to her- she decided that we couldn't work together , I had doubted her, so she disappeared and after 9 months of communication so did our hopes for the diabetic alert dogl. I was devastated. When I told Ron what had happened after thinking it over he offered to help. He has trained dogs to do everything else and he took on the challenge of training a dog to detect low and high blood sugars. He told me he wanted to train a dog to help make my son have a better life and keep him safe.
Ron has dedicated his time, knowledge and resources to finding and training a diabetic alert dog for Liam. This has been a huge undertaking-not only did a 14 year old need to learn all the obedience commands and leash handling, but Ron had to learn all about diabetes and then find the appropriate dog for the job- in order to coordinate this specialized program for the diabetic alert dog training. He immersed himself in this mission. Working to build confidence in my son's abilities while learning on our family dog
Ron has been focused, supportive and extremely knowledgeable. It was an amazing day when Ron called and told us he had found "the dog" a beautiful 10month old black lab, Max. He drove my son over two hours to the site in order to evaluate the dog's abilities. Since that day, countless hours have been spent training Max on scent detection, obedience and public access. Ron's son Jarod, became interested in the training of diabetic alert dogs and returned to the area to join the team to provide this type of training.Ron and Jarod even flew with us to Kentucky for further training on diabetes scent detection, public access and ADA law.
What a journey it has been, Ron has time and again demonstrated his expertise as a dog trainer, he truly can teach a dog to do anything and he can teach the person as well. Perhaps as impressive as this to me though, is Ron's true caring and dedication to making life better for Liam. He has taken on the challenge to learn about Type 1 Diabetes and has translated this into what the dog must know . He has encouraged my son, and stood by him through low blood sugars, frustrations, and difficulties helping to mold him and Max as a team. I can not even begin to express my gratitude, what Ron has done for us quite literally has changed our lives and may well save Liam's. Ron thanks for being an angel !
Lisa Kelly, PT
Certified Sensory Integration Specialist
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Board of Directors