Help Liv Get A Service Dog

The Backstory
My daughter, Olivia “Liv” Wilkins was born in Pullman, Washington on May 5, 2007. However, August 16, 2015 is a date we also recognize in her life. 8/16/15 is Liv’s “Diaversary”, the date she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We were suddenly immersed into carb counts, insulin doses and blood sugar levels. Her new normal was finger sticks, injections, life-threatening lows and dangerous highs. Birthday parties, sleepovers, field trips, and summer camp would not be the same.

About Liv
Liv is the youngest of 4 kids. She is gregarious and outgoing.  She is an excellent student. She is highly sensitive, silly and sassy. But what truly defines Liv is her love for dogs. She was reading The Encyclopedia of Dogs at 6 and can identify any breed of dog and discuss its traits and origin. Her dream is to someday be able to help rescue dogs.  

T1D Management
Advances in technology have made living with T1D so much better. Liv was able to get an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) by her 1 year diaversary. This reduced the amount of daily pokes and gave us more information, but did not make her new life easy by any means. There are pump failures and CGM limitations. Sensor loss is routine with the CGM and it has delays in sensing rapid dropping lows. Liv isn't able to wake up to the alarms at night, and she often turns off the alarms when they might be a disruption to others.

With a couple years of T1D behind us and feeling more settled into the new normal, Liv began her 5th grade year with the usual back to school excitement. By late fall, however, there were problems. While having bad days were not unusual, there were now more bad days than good. Tears, resistance and fighting was frequent and she didn’t want to go to school. Liv told me she just wished she could be a normal kid again. I put several things in place to support her but wasn’t sure it was enough.

A Solution
I was sharing these concerns with a friend and she asked if I had ever considered a service dog. I hadn’t. I knew they were extremely expensive, but the idea began to grow. Liv got super excited when we talked about the possibilties. So, for the first time I researched service dogs for diabetes.  I found the organization, Diabetic Alert Dogs of America. They seemed like the best fit, but with a pricetag of $15,000. 

Diabetic Alert Dogs of America is an organization based out of Las Vegas that places service dogs across the United States. It was established in 2005 and offers a lifetime guarantee of their animals. They train the dogs to detect chemical changes that occur when blood sugars are too high or too low and alert their person. A service dog for Liv would help her manage her hardest days, bringing joy and hope to this “new normal” life.

Thank you for your consideration of this opportunity for Liv,  and also supporting the issues surrounding Type 1 Diabetes.

For more information on Type 1 Diabetes and Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, please visit:
American Diabetes AssociationDiabetic Alert Dogs of America 

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Catherine Becker Wilkins 
Pullman, WA
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