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Unwavering support and love!

Kathleen and EAC "Handsome" Ransom are a dynamic duo! Kathleen shares some of her unique experience below.

How does type 1 diabetes impact your life? What do you wish people knew about this disease?

Many people with type 1 diabetes say that it is a 24/7/365 condition with no vacation or breaks. I think that description is so overused that people really don't know what it means. Type 1 diabetes is a variable, unforgiving condition that requires constant monitoring and intervention just to stay alive every single minute of every single day. I think human nature is to think that nothing can really be that hard, and people tend to think that I seem to be “handling it so well.”

Unless you have the condition, it's hard for people to comprehend something that really IS that difficult. We often try to make it look easy for a variety of reasons: So others don't feel uncomfortable, offer unhelpful advice or worry. The most helpful and caring response I have ever received when telling someone I live with type 1 diabetes is, "I really don't know anything about the disease but it must be very difficult. Is there anything I can do to support you?"

How is a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) life-changing and life-saving for you?

Despite vigilance and great effort, blood sugars are ever-changing. There is nothing medically, nutritionally or scientifically that can be done to keep blood sugars steady. Nothing can replace a working pancreas. Nothing! Knowing that, I utilize all the available resources (including an insulin-pump, glucose monitor, and dietary modifications), but my DAD is probably the most helpful and my go-to tool in my box. Having EAC Ransom's nose constantly sniffing out rapidly changing blood sugars, especially low blood sugars, has literally saved my life many times. Nothing is 100% foolproof when it comes to diabetes management, but having Ransom ensures that I have access to an additional and very unique tool.

What is the best thing about having a DAD? What is the most challenging thing?

It’s true that EAC Ransom's low blood sugar alert skills are amazing and life-saving, but the best thing about having a DAD is that I feel comforted by the fact that he looks out for me: I'm not alone, and I can count on him for unwavering support and love, especially during the dark times that are inherent when living with type 1 diabetes.

There are many challenges and considerations living with this disease. I must constantly ask myself: Do I have what I need to be safe if I experience low blood sugar outside of my home? Will someone help me if I collapse on the street? I also need to consider: Do I have what my DAD needs when I leave the house? Do I need to adjust his feeding or watering schedule to accommodate where we are going (e.g., flying on an airplane, a restaurant, museum, etc.)? We have a long joint list of things to bring with us and additional factors to consider, depending on where we are going.

Do you experience discrimination with a Service Dog? What would you like the public to know about this?

I absolutely experience discrimination with a Service Dog, in fact, all the time. Just recently, we went to a film and a person with a visible physical disability was making her way to the seat next to us. I wanted to accommodate her needs, so I inquired if she was going to sit next to me or cross over me to another seat, because I would move my DAD so that she could pass easily. Suddenly, another movie-goer verbally accused me of being insensitive and asserted that I wasn’t allowing the woman to get to her seat. I suppose that since my disability isn’t visible, he made the rude assumption that I was just another entitled person trying to pass my pet dog off as a Service Dog. The impact of interactions like this puts a huge damper on what otherwise would be fun outings.

I would love to see a more compassionate and understanding view of people with Service Dogs, but sadly, the public tends to get caught up in the huge problem we have with fake service dogs. I wish people wouldn’t rush to judgment just because someone has an invisible disability. It seems to me that kindness and respect for each other seems to be missing in our world, more often than not.

Why should a donor support Early Alert Canines (EAC)?

Supporting EAC ensures that more people with type 1 diabetes have access to this valuable "tool" and also supports the organization on a larger scale. EAC's advocacy and education about Service Dogs is invaluable to society as a whole and is making a positive impact for all people who utilize Service Dogs to mitigate their disability. It's a win-win, but it’s a very hard task that they gladly take on and do so well.

Anything else you'd like to share?

While having EAC Ransom adds a level of responsibility and consideration to my day and to my life, I gladly take him on so I can have him in my life. We are co-caregivers, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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