Typical Day

IMG_20141007_070424149 (2)The day begins with me going downstairs to get Bear out of bed and out for a walk. If Bear did not signal in the middle of the night, then this is my first trip down. If he signaled at some point in the middle of the night, then it could be up to my sixth trip down: one to go down and realize the kit is upstairs, two to bring the kit down and realize there are no strips in the kit, three to bring the strips down and test, fourth to bring down a juice box for Maggie or Dec, fifth to bring down a scrap of hot dog for Bear, and the sixth to come down to take Bear for a walk.

On school mornings Bear is still in bed snoring away. The only change for a weekend is that I am snoring upstairs, and Bear is barking downstairs. Up and out of bed, stretch and scratch, and we are on our way to the park to throw the ball. Along the way there will be anywhere from one to four poops, depending on how much bread was left in the bag that Bear ate yesterday.

Back at home Bear gets fed and finds a cozy spot on the couch to wait for Declan to wake up. The couch spot is abandoned briefly after Heather and I are done getting ready, before the kids are up, to check to see if there is any cat-food left out. Then back to the couch. The kids saunter upstairs and each has to be greeted. And Bear may signal solely on the presence of the kit coming out to check blood sugar. The success rate on these signals, as you can imagine, is quite low. But there are times when Bear signals and either Maggie or Declan are still downstairs and they are low.

Heather leaves. I leave. And then the kids walk around the house and make sure there are no less than 15 lights turned on. Maggie and Fiona leave either together or separate. And then it is just Declan and Bear for a solid hour. I cannot confirm this, but from the pattern established this week, I believe Declan leaves the ice cream out on the counter after eating a few bites and then makes sure there is a loaf of bread in the pantry within chomping reach of Bear’s snout.

1408051310200After Declan leaves then it is serious couch time. But first Bear must tour the house for any treasures within reach. This is when he finds the carton of half eaten and half melted ice cream, and the half to three-quarters of a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread. Not sure if he takes them one at a time, but the treats are consumed int he TV room, where I find a ripped apart ice-cream carton, and torn plastic bag that used to hold the bread.

And then it is off to the couch to help digest. We have had friends say they come by the house to drop something off, or see if anyone is home, and Bear is splayed out on the couch. They knock on the door and Bear doesn’t move. They knock again, checking to see if he is still alive. Bear slowly turns to see who is at the door before turning back to his nap. And after the ice cream and bread any of us could use a solid four hour nap.

IMG_20140808_170543880A couple of days a week the nap is interrupted by Grandma Estelle coming over to take Bear for a walk. I believe this is the best part of the day second only to Declan coming home. After the walk Grandma makes some coffee and maybe makes a sandwich. She reinforces some good habits for Bear, tossing extra meat or cheese his way and Mimi’s way while she makes her meal.

Back home and back to the couch to wait for Fiona to come home and turn on a few more lights. Eventually everyone gets back home. When I get home I do a quick tour of the house to not only take inventory of what Bear ate from the kitchen, but also to turn off all the lights. I grew up during the energy crisis in the 70s and am conditioned to turn things off if they are not being used.

IMG_20141012_125740960 (1)As each person comes home Bear finds a sock, or a shoe, or a towel, or anything from the floor to carry over to the person and greet them. There might be an occasional low-blood sugar to signal for, but Bear must always first greet the new people with something in his mouth.

IMG_20141014_195651067Then dinner and homework, maybe someone takes Bear outside for a quick walk or to throw the ball a bit. And then back downstairs to go to bed with Dec.


What to do?

Sunday afternoon down time.

Sunday afternoon down time.

Weekend rolls around again. Six AM and the chirping bark sounds from the far reaches of the basement. Bear still isn’t understanding the idea of the weekend. It is a time to sleep past six, maybe into the seven-o-clock hour. But I have to respect the signal. And as I rise from the fog of sleep I remember Declan got a shot before going to bed. Proportions and ratios and activity level in the afternoon come back to me. He was mid 400s before bed. He got a 2.5 unit shot to correct the 400. He had been with friends and had walked home before testing. It could be that the signal is a true-positive.

Kit and juice box in hand I navigate the dark stairs. First Dec and then Maggie. Dec was 328 and Maggie was 227, neither low. Trying not to reinforce to Bear that the chirpy bark means getting outside whenever he wants, I put him back up on Dec’s bed for what remains of sleep time.

Back up in bed, trying to steal a few more minutes of sleep as day approaches, I begin to wonder if Bear could have been signaling the high-blood sugar. Apparently the scent for the high is much stronger and more irritating than the low scent, and most dogs begin picking up on the high-scent on their own. Could he have been signaling the high-scent? If so, couldn’t he have signaled it much earlier? Or was Bear just beginning to stir from sleep and realized there was a high-scent and so he signaled, simultaneously realizing that his bladder was full.

Because Bear still hasn’t mastered English, and also because I haven’t picked up on the nuances of a high- or low-blood sugar-scent, these questions, I’m afraid, will never be answered. However, I continue to question how react to all this uncertainty.


A game each morning this weekend, and Heather brought Bear along to both of them. With enough exercise before first whistle, Bear is able to stay in a “down” for the game. He acts more like an adult dog now.

At half-time of the game on Sunday Dec was 50 and had about six sugar tabs before getting back in the game in the second half. After the game Heather said that Bear was really well behaved except for right before halftime. Not sure how we can coordinate it, but we need to somehow communicate the misbehaving of Bear not only to check on Dec (or Maggie), but also to reward Bear for signaling.

Trying to figure this out

Bear celebrating the Cal overtime win over Colorado.

Bear celebrating the Cal overtime win over Colorado.

Yesterday Declan stayed home from school with a headache. He was hunkered down in his room for most of the day, avoiding light. This is a dream come true for Bear. Not only does he get to be with Dec through the night, but he also gets to sleep with him through the day. It was only when Grandma came over that Bear barked at the door to get out of Dec’s room.

Later in the afternoon Bear signaled Declan with some of his annoying barks. Dec was in the mid 80s, so Bear got some yummy hot dog morsels. Declan had a snack to keep his blood sugar from going lower.

About forty minutes later, Declan sat on the couch eating a grilled cheese, and Bear barked at him. Playful at heart, it is not unusual for Bear to yap away trying to get someone to play with him. And it is even more common for Bear to do this to Declan. Throw a grilled cheese sandwich that he might like to try, and the message seems clear that Bear is wanting some play. However, Declan would not acquiesce. He still had a lingering headache and was enjoying some quiet. So Declan “scolded” Bear, telling him “No” and to be quiet.

However, Bear persisted. And finally the gears started turning in my head. Maggie wasn’t home yet, so it couldn’t be her low. I’d just downed several handfuls of chocolate chips (damn Costco), so it couldn’t be me. And I thought since Dec had treated his “low” from earlier that it couldn’t be him. No harm in checking, so I grabbed the kit and checked my blood sugar before passing it off to Dec. And Dec was 62. Bear nailed it.

And he was pretty excited about it.

Other recent “hits”

  • Bear was signaling and signaling. He was pawing and barking. I checked mine, Maggie checked hers. We were all not low. Could Bear be signaling Maggie’s sort of high blood sugar? Five minutes later Declan comes home from playing at the park. He is 57. Could Bear have smelled that one? The park is only seven blocks away, so maybe.
  • 530 am and the bark from downstairs is heard. Dec is fine, but Maggie is 62. Bear is quite proud of this, prancing around the house after.
  • Home from soccer practice, Bear signals with a paw. Dec is low.

Recent “misses”

  • 1408051310200Home from her soccer game, Maggie is 61. Bear snoozes on the couch.
  • Everyone in bed, including Bear, Maggie checks and is 57. Bear snoozes in Dec’s room.

Going shopping

Bear is home alone, asIMG_20141001_135336427 usual. He takes advantage of the shrapnel left behind from breakfast. He also enjoys perusing the dry goods area in the pantry. Today he finished off the bread crumbs and Dave’s Killer Bread. He took out the bag of rice, but did not partake in it.