Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The First Save

This post is part of a series called Where's Wuby? Wednesdays where I'll post a new story about Ruby, or diabetic alert dogs in general.  Ruby is a service dog trained to detect high and low blood sugars in Faith and notify me.  She has changed our lives and dramatically improved Faith's blood sugar control.  

If there was ever anything you wanted to know about these dogs, or how they work, ask away and I'll try to answer the best I can; or if you are just as amazed as me at how God created these animals, I hope you'll enjoy reading about the incredible experiences we've had so far with our Ruby.

In the meantime, you can follow Faith and Wuby on Facebook by clicking Here.


We traveled to Wildrose on a Sunday afternoon.  We wanted to get there, get settled, and then we would meet Ruby the next morning.  Wildrose had been more than generous, letting us spend the week in their gorgeous cabin on-site.  Chuck and I felt like we were on vacation!  The view was incredible.

We LOVED being able to sit on the porch and drink coffee.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  We sat in those chairs and waited anxiously for Ruby to arrive.

Faith LOVED playing in those pebbles in the walkway.  We had a hard time keeping her from throwing them everywhere.

She was so little. How did I not notice how little she was at the time?  I think it's by the grace of God, because if you let yourself dwell on how absurd a situation is (like needing a service animal for your 18 month old diabetic baby) then you'll lose your mind.  We were just in the middle of the storm doing what we had to do.  But, now when I look back it almost takes my breath away to see how little she was at diagnosis...and when she got her service dog, Ruby.

 Here's she's waving to Ruby and the trainer who are walking up.

This was the first time we saw Ruby.  I was so nervous I couldn't stand it.

 These next pictures were snapped the moment Faith and Ruby met. :')

We spent that first day just going over basic service dog handling, and practicing some public access.  Going out in public with a dog at your side is harder than you think.

Faith loved Ruby from day one.  In this pic she's holding the "weash" getting ready to go bye-bye for lunch.

The whole first day Faith's blood sugar was unusually steady.  Ruby didn't get an opportunity to alert for a high or low at all while the trainer was with us.  So, I still didn't KNOW what an alert looked like.  I'd heard it described of course, and had learned how to respond when Ruby alerted, but I hadn't experienced it for myself.  After a very active and exciting day, it was decided that Ruby would spend the night with us in the cabin, so we could get to know each other without the pressure of the trainer watching.

That evening I was getting Faith ready for bed, and Ruby was napping peacefully on her cot.

The next moment, I noticed Ruby stand up.

Chuck and I both froze immediately and waited for what would happen next.

Ruby calmly stepped off her cot, walked across the room, grabbed the bringsel (the stick Ruby retrieves to alert), and brought it to me.

My heart was racing.

It was actually happening!

I quickly checked Faith's blood sugar.  It was 160.  Not a bad number and not a high or a low.  Ruby alerts a high for anything over 180 and a low as anything under 100.

I was disappointed, but figured Ruby was allowed to make a mistake.  This was the first day, and Faith, as a toddler, did come with a lot of unusual smells.

I put Ruby back on her cot, put Faith to bed, and started clearing the table and washing the dishes from supper.

A few minutes later, Ruby alerts again.  I think to myself that I know Faith is fine, but for the sake of Ruby's training I'll humor her and check again.

In the less than 15 minutes Faith's blood sugar had dropped to 80!  The active, exciting day we'd had was catching up with us!

Chuck and I were overjoyed and completely in awe!  Ruby had warned us that a low was coming!

Because Faith was dropping so quickly, I gave her enough fast acting sugar to boost her blood sugar about 100 points.  (Which, by the way, was only about 3-5 grams of carbs.)

I put Ruby back on her cot, and left Faith in her bed.  (She was asleep - yes she can both eat and drink in her sleep.  Part of the type 1 gig.)

I went back to the dishes with a plan to recheck Faith in a few minutes, but sure that she would be fine.

15 minutes later, Ruby alerts again.  We recheck Faith.  Her blood sugar was 65!

Chuck and I can't believe it!  We are so grateful.

I give Faith another round of fast acting sugar that would normally boost her at least 100 points in blood sugar.

I put Ruby back on her cot, and I go back to what I was doing.  Paying very close attention to Faith and Ruby, but again sure that I'd given Faith enough to correct the low.

15 minutes later, Ruby alerts again!  We recheck Faith and her blood sugar is 55!

Another 15 minutes, another alert, blood sugar down to 50.  Another round of sugar.

I am completely in awe at this point.  I put Ruby back on her cot, and this time I just sit there crying and watching my two girls sleep.  Just waiting for whatever was coming next.

15 minutes comes and goes and Ruby doesn't alert.

I half-jokingly tell Chuck that I think I already broke the dog.

I ask Ruby if we need to check and she just sits there.

I check Faith anyway and her blood sugar was 110.  Ruby didn't alert because Faith was above 100!  How amazing is this dog?

Chuck and I sat there overwhelmingly grateful to God for this incredible gift.

On a normal night at home I wouldn't have checked Faith's blood sugar again for at least 2 hours after that blood sugar of 160.

Thank God for Ruby.

As fast as Faith's blood sugar was dropping and as resistant as it was to correction, it's terrified us to think of what we'd found in Faith's bed at that next blood sugar check.

Ruby started saving Faith's life that first night and she hasn't let us down since.  What a blessing she is to us.

This is a picture of Ruby watching over Faith that night.  These girls have slept next to each other every single night since that first amazing night when Ruby saved our precious baby girl.


  1. So amazing how God put Ruby there on just the right day. I remember your posts about this but im glad to read the full length version! Wonderful blessing from God that Faith received.

  2. Chills. I really love learning how the "alerting" works. I had no idea that she would go and grab a "wand" and bring it to you to let you know Faith was out of range...and that is a TIGHT she alerting often???

  3. Yes, Reyna, she alerts A LOT. Before Ruby we were encouraged to keep Faith's bg high (above 200) because she was too little to communicate her highs and lows. Her a1c was drawn the week before we got Ruby and it was 10.4. 3 months after we got Ruby her a1c was 7.1! We can now safely have this tight of a range because Ruby NEVER misses a low. And always alerts me that it's coming BEFORE the meter shows 100. I can *usually* give her a few carbs and avoid the low altogether. Before Ruby we had a low <60 every single day (& usually at night). Now most weeks, Faith only has one low <80. And only because I don't give enough carbs to stop the drop.

  4. A DAD that is properly trained seems to work better than a cgms. I am interested and here's why: You can sleep through a cgms alarm, even if amplified. The dog will come and get you, won't give up until you respond and some can even dial 911! When our teen goes off to college I would love to send her off with a DAD. Our only problem is we want the DAD to hang around the house and protect her overnight and at home, not go everywhere with her. I have spoken to one for whom this scenario works, yet it is not the way these dogs are supposed to operate; they need to go everywhere with you. Love also the fact that you don't have to stick your child every three days with an extra site. Could you go into what you have to do and how time consuming it is to maintain training? I have heard you have to continually refresh training and work with the dog. It is almost obscene to see such a young babe with Type 1, though I know you are not alone. There has been an increase in the under 5 year diagnosis of Type 1. Seeing such a young one have to deal with this, makes the need for a cure more urgent. No child should have to deal with Type 1 but heartbreaking to see very young children, toddlers and babies who cannot understand why you are treating, what you are doing. Thank God for your Ruby! Some well needed help for your little one.

  5. Yes, I will be addressing all of this in an upcoming post. Well trained DADs are (in my opinion) far superior to CGMS. (We've used DexCom) BUT, DADs are not for everyone. They are for sure a lot of work. Thank you for your comment and check back soon for a post to answer all your questions.

  6. God is Great and it is Amazing how he made dogs who are already man's best friend, being our lifesavers as well. Wish we had DAD's in South Africa.

  7. I am a mom of a type 1 diagnosed at 11 months just this past March. Just about 16 months now so I read your post with deep empathy and interest. Looking forward to hearing more about the dog.


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