Thistle Ridge Diabetic Alert Dogs

What is a Diabetic Alert Dog? This term - or "DAD" - has been getting a lot of attention lately. Not all of the publicity has been positive, not everyone does this for the reason you would think. But what exactly does it mean for a diabetic, or the family of a diabetic, to have one of these dogs?

Imagine that hat your child becomes suddenly ill. A fear of every parent. Sudden weight loss, moodiness, unexplained changes in behavior, an unexplained listlessness that involves a panicked rush to the Emergency Room. Tests, hospital stays, fear that your child may not make it. But a diagnosis comes fairly fast - your child has diabetes. Easy enough, right? You get a brochure, a glucometer, a prescription for insulin, and a referral to an endocrinologist. Everybody knows this is just a blood sugar issue right?

Wrong. The complexity of what causes diabetes is unknown to most. What the general public does not understand is that every night when you put your child to bed, it might be the last time. That might be the night that everything shuts down and you miss that window between a normal reading and death. So as a parent, you learn to set your alarm. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a night if you're able to sleep at all. You check your child for signs of easy breathing, you check their blood sugar in the middle of the night, you inject them with life sustaining insulin. You repeat this every night. They repeat it at school numerous times a day. During football practice, during sleepovers, during all the normal childhood activities that we take for granted. There is no "normal" life for a type one diabetic. And there is no cure.

But what if I told you that there is a tool available to these families that can change the quality of life for an entire household? A tool that never runs out of batteries and that can wake up parents and children in times of rising and falling blood sugar levels? A tool that can allow the children and their parents to sleep through the night when all is well, and alert them when things are starting to change. That can alert them before danger strikes. And what if I told you I can provide that tool? Well, I can. And I will.

I have been training dogs and raising Jack Russell Terriers since 1997. I retired from a board and train program after 13 years when we moved from DFW to the piney Woods of southeast Texas in 2012 and I have desperately missed working with dogs on a full time basis. I prayed for a way that I could do something meaningful with my dogs and still make a living with it, and that is when a dear friend suggested I look at training Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs). Type 1 diabetes is close to my heart, affecting both family and friends, and I knew I was being called to do this. My prayers had been answered. There are 25.8 million children and adults in the US that are diabetic. Diabetic families (especially with children) are often under great stress and very sleep deprived. They are often desperate for help and in need of assistance that medical devices alone cannot do. This is where the predators in this business swoop in and take advantage. Google "diabetic alert dog lawsuits" and see what you find. This industry is new and we are doing everything possible to help make it a legitimate business where promises are made and kept, families are put at ease, and there is a little tail-wagging back up plan in the life of every diabetic that desires one.

So what are the basic benefits of a DAD?
DADs can alert to high and low blood glucose changes
Provide a back up to medical devices
Provide emotional support
Give unconditional friendship

Learning to do this the best possible way was my first goal. I was able to attend training with a pioneer in canine scent detection and combined with all of my other training and breeding experience I am ready to provide this life saving tool. But I need your help to succeed.

My goal is to expand my kennel to provide the degree of breeding and training accommodations I need to properly train alert dogs.  There is a great need for smaller dogs, and there are not many breeds that are small that are good at this service. I have 5 generations of terriers that have been selectively bred for exceptional temperaments and good noses, and I feel they will be perfect to fill this need. I am a small breeder and can only accommodate one litter of 4-6 puppies at a time. I need the seed money to improve the small facility to comfortably raise multiple litters with plenty of space and training area, and give my puppies everything they need to succeed.

Because diabetes has affected my family and friends and so many others, I am on the path to train alert dogs to provide efficient canine companions and guardians of life. However, training one dog at a time is neither efficient nor cost effective. I need your help to continue my dream of having a kennel dedicated solely to the breeding and training of alert dogs.

It is very expensive and time consuming to train a DAD. Approximately 1000 hours of training goes into each dog and each recipient becomes like a family member. It is not a turnkey business. It is a lifelong relationship.

With the help of GoFundMe and private donations and fundraisers we have opened our doors and are training our first DADs! We have four DADs In Training and will be choosing two more from our current litter.  All of our clients are running fundraising campaigns and you can contribute to our general fund to help us to continue to improve and expand our facility, or earmark your donation for one of our clients. Just $10,000 will allow us to finish our kennel improvements and put the finishing touches on our training facility, as well as allow us to contribute to the funds being raised for our clients. I've come so far and have received a great deal of support, I just need to get a little further! I am a member of the Diabetic Alert Dog Alliance, and with your help, I can have more of these lifesaving dogs ready to go as soon as 2015. Won't you help me raise these funds? And please...pass the word to your friends, family, and neighbors on Facebook. Someone you know is either affected by this disease or has a loved one that is. I bet someone you know is searching for the perfect alert dog right now! Every donation, no matter how small you think it is, is huge to me and to the families waiting for our dogs! Visit our website for more ways to help And to purchase a tshirt to help spread the word!
  • Ashley Rancatore 
    • $25 
    • 79 mos
  • David Goodrich 
    • $20 
    • 83 mos
  • Dewey Dog 
    • $50 
    • 86 mos
  • Leslie Rovin 
    • $20 
    • 86 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $35 
    • 88 mos
See all


Wendy Palmer Hallenbeck 
Jasper, TX
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