Enjoying the river

Out of bed and it’s still dark. jammy bottoms, down jacket, and old sneakers on, ready for the morning walk. Dragging in the beginning, force Bear in a short leash walk. Bear takes a long pee. I count to no less than 25 on the first pee of the morning. After a block I unleash him. We walk a loop.

But in the evening, if I get home in time, we’ll go to the river. And it is beautiful. And Bear runs off leash and retrieves sticks. And now he leaps off the squishy dock into the river.

Training

We continue to train with scent samples. Bear is improving with the scent sample. But not so good in the middle of the night. Last night Maggie woke up at 46 and had trouble getting up stairs. We all slept through it. Later on, Bear woke me at 5. We went down and checked Maggie. She had rebounded to 300 after treating the low on her own.

Eating well

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Bear and Dec at the river.

At first I thought it was all the exercise Bear was getting. A couple walks a day on top of the trip to the river with Grandma exhausted him. I’m beginning to wonder if it might be an increase in extracurricular dining. Yesterday and today I think we got to the bottom of it.

Every few days there would be one or two packages I’d find around the house or out in the backyard: An empty box of cereal in the TV room, a torn up bread bag outside, the butter dish on the ground. Concerned about manners, Bear used utensils as well. Next to the cookie sheet on the living room floor is the serrated knife. Beside the Tupperware is the spatula, chewed to oblivion.

Need extra sleep.

Need extra sleep.

Yesterday I got home and found a bit of dried olive Ciabatta on the floor. Weird, I thought, as I picked it up and cut a thick slice to slather with butter. It wouldn’t be the first time that the animals known as teenagers had left half eaten food around the house. However, later I found the bag that went with the loaf of bread. It was torn and had some puncture wounds. Stirring the boys from their Xbox game I came across the remains of the Tillamook baby loaf, a Ritz cracker container, and a dead bird (pretty sure that was the cats, though).

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More sleep.

At dinner I asked Declan about the bread and whether he and his friend ate it. Dec explained that instead of Bear greeting Dec at the door with the usual dog toy in his mouth, Bear had a loaf of bread in his mouth. Of course he didn’t notice this until his friend pointed it out to him.

Today I came home and found the paper wrapper from the giant Costco size dried salami on the floor next to Bear’s couch and the remains of the Costco size Irish cheese between the couches.

So it may be that Bear is exhausted from all the exercise he is getting. The amount of walking, running, and swimming could certainly tire a dog out. But I’m beginning to believe it is all the cheese and crackers, and salami and bread he is consuming. With his increase in exercise must come a commensurate increase in calories.

Signaling

IMG_20131013_101218Completely unrelated to the food intake, but central to Bear’s job (hopefully one day), Bear continues to signal Dec or Maggie AFTER they sense a low. This morning Maggie woke up and went to her kit. This is a sure sign to me that she feels low because if she didn’t feel low I would have to remind her to check her blood sugar no less than four times before she would actually check. Bear was sleeping on the couch, no doubt finishing digestion of some Ciabatta bread. The positive news is that Bear woke up and went to Maggie while she was checking her blood sugar. I don’t think he would have gotten up had he not smelled the low. So that is at least a move in the right direction.

Lacking sleep

Catching up on some sleep.

Catching up on some sleep.

The new routine is in place. By 745 in the morning everyone is gone except for Declan and Bear. Declan leaves by 845. Then Bear is home alone until Grandma shows up for the middle of the day river walk. Declan is supposed to put Bear in his room before he leaves for school. We even put an alarm on Dec’s new phone to remind him to put Bear in the room. From the daily updates I get from Grandma, Bear has been successfully placed in his room three times.

Capture

Part of the new  routine is getting daily updates from Grandma. The updates not only report the whereabouts and the damage Bear has done when she arrives at the house, but they also include how things went at the river.

CaptureReading the text updates from school can be a bit nerve wracking as there is nothing I can do about it. I wonder what mess will be found when I get home. We still need to replace that shin guard. 

In contrast to the benefits of Grandma’s daily visits is Bear’s new night time schedule. Though he is exhausted at the end of the day from multiple walks and a lot of running at the river, Bear has trained himself to wake sometime around 2 AM. I believe the main objective for Bear is to take advantage of a few treats that are more accessible at 2 AM. First he goes to the kitchen pantry, looking for granola bars and chocolate milks that might be on a low shelf. Next Bear ventures to the counter for a jar of butter. Though no butter may be found, he can generally snag a spatula or spoon to chew on. After exhausting the plastic on the spatula, Bear saunters back to the bathroom to clean the cat food dishes.

Playing with Homer.

Playing with Homer.

The regularity of night barks has decreased Dec’s sensitivity and increased my sensitivity to middle of the night commotion. So now I hear Bear barking in the Dec’s room. I venture downstairs, letting him out and placing him in his crate. Then I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, which is about the time I realize that Dec or Maggie might be low. After a brief debate with myself, recalling the bedtime blood sugar number and the previous evening activity, I rise from bed and descend the stairs again, this time with a kit to check blood sugars.

Initially Maggie and Dec’s blood sugars were fine. But now that I am the one letting Bear out of Dec’s room, I now remember to take a kit down and test them before putting Bear in the crate. And twice his night time routine has coincided with a low. Or, optimistically, he was signalling the low with his barking.

And there was another time this past week that he signaled Maggie as she came upstairs. But there have also been the times when Dec is low and Bear snoozes on, signaling only after we’ve checked the blood sugar and we’ve called him over to take a sniff, which is turning out to be a signal for Bear to signal. Not our intention, but we’re working on it.

Training

We continue scent training, though not as much. More of the training is finding the scent now. I’ll hide the scent while Bear is in a stay. I’ll release Bear and then follow him around while he sniffs it out. Yesterday Bear did great sniffing out the sample. It was interesting to see him go past the sample, slow down, circle around, and then quickly zero in on it.

The smoking probably isn't helping the scent training.

The smoking probably isn’t helping the scent training.

When possible I hide the scents in someone’s pocket, or in a sleeve. I believe this will condition Bear to associating the scent with a person and signaling the person. After successfully signaling Dec after sniffing out the sample in his pocket, Bear kept going back to Dec and signaling. I’m giving Bear the benefit of the doubt on this one. I think he was smelling remnants of a low that Dec had earlier in the day. I don’t think Dec smelled like a low, but I believe his clothes still had the scent.

Initially I thought training Bear in our house would be easier because there are two people with diabetes. I now think that it would be easier to train him in an environment with no one with diabetes. It is much easier to control when the scent is out and when the training is occurring without any lingering low-scents showing up unexpectedly.