Rescued Dog Saves Diabetic Owner
Australian cattle dog Middy relishes his new role as a service dog after the discovery of his amazing ability to warn his diabetic owner. (Photo Courtesy of Walter Graham)
Ten-year-old Australian cattle dog Middy is never far from the side of Walter Graham, his owner. Whether playing fetch or taking a walk by the lake, the two are constant companions. But Middy is no ordinary pet.
“He knew before I knew what was going on with me,” Graham said.
Graham adopted Middy from a rescue group, when he was just six months old. Then, about four years later, Middy’s behavior suddenly changed.
“I’d come home from work and Middy would just constantly bark at me,” Graham said. “I had no idea what was going on other than I knew I was sick and something was wrong.”
Soon after, Graham was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Once he got his levels under control, Graham says Middy stopped barking at him. So he wanted to test his theory.
“I then started creating diabetic events, if you will, and at that point would realize that Middy was reacting to my blood sugar,” Graham said.
Graham’s doctor put Middy through some tests and confirmed his remarkable abilities. By using his nose, Middy was apparently smelling sugar level changes on Graham's breath. Graham then got the idea that perhaps his pet could become a service dog, which would give Graham a lot more freedom without having to constantly worry about his blood sugar levels.
That’s when New Horizons Service Dogs stepped in. Based in Orange City, Florida, New Horizons has been training service dogs for more than fifteen years.
“Middy had good skills but he needed to learn some basic obedience,” New Horizons Executive Director Janet Severt said. “He needed to learn how to behave in public and to be socialized around unusual things whether it be a subway or a plane or grocery store or going into a restaurant.” She said.
Severt says she has never trained a dog quite like Middy.
“Most of our dogs are started from a very young age,” Severt said. “Very rarely do we have an older dog that becomes such a wonderful service dog like Middy.”
Even more unusual is that most service dogs are Labrador or golden retrievers.
“Middy’s a one of a kind for a cattle dog, which is not a normal dog for service work because it’s a herding breed,” Severt said. “He uses his herding instinct to bump him. He uses that to tell Walter he needs to take care of himself,” Severt said.
Middy’s training took about six months, and he’s been an active service dog for the last six years.
Severt says she’s still amazed by him. “It’s a miracle that Middy was able to help Walter in the way he did,” Severt said.
As for Graham, he says he adopted Middy because he wanted to rescue a cattle dog. Reflecting on their special bond, Graham says, “Now, he’s rescued me.”
If you would like more information about New Horizons Service Dogs visit their website at www.newhorizonsservicedogs.org.
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