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Karen and Onyx

It has been said that dogs, or many animals actually, seem to have a sixth sense within them. Never has that seemed more true to me than with service dogs; in particular, the medical alert dog. While many training organizations are assisting dogs to become sensitive to blood sugar levels (among other things), often these dogs surprise their handlers by having the characteristic within their DNA with no formal training. Check out this story about Karen and Onyx as told to us by Karen.
My name is Karen, and I live in a little town called Hokes Bluff, AL.   Every day, I deal with neurological issues as well as diabetes, which always kept me limited on where I could go or what I could do alone.  To help me cope with my limited mobility, my loving husband decided to gift me with a was 6 weeks old Pekingese as a Christmas gift in 2011.  I was raised around pekingese, and always wanted a puppy to raise, so it was the perfect gift.  We bonded almost instantly, to the point that she would cry if I got out of her sight.  We were virtually inseparable.  We also had several other furbabies, but she was glued to me from the first day.
At the end of January 2012, I had to make a trip to Jacksonville, FL for my son's wedding (I was to be in the wedding).  Due to restrictions at the hotel we were staying at, I left Onyx at home in the capable hands of our roommates (a wonderful couple named Traci and Kelley...Kelley is a certified canine behaviorist and service animal trainer).  At 6pm on January 28th, 2012, I watched my youngest marry a wonderful girl.  When the wedding ended, and everyone went outside, I found myself being surrounded by an ever increasing circle of people who I really didn't know.  I tend to have panic attacks when in crowds, so I looked to my husband...who had a VERY pained expression on his face.  Then he broke the news to me - a fire had destroyed our home, and my ONLY survivor was Onyx (she was in another room in the house, and my roommates were able to save her and one other dog...the other 3 furbabies were "free-roaming", and they didn't make it).
We raced home (the longest 8 hours of my life) to find everything destroyed.  The Red Cross put us in a motel until we could reach our insurance on Monday, and luckily, the motel had no problem with Onyx being with me.  She clung to me, and would either wrap her paws around my arm and "corn-cobbing" (where they nibble, just like eating corn) my skin, or she was up in my face with her paws, whining and barking.  Understandably, I assumed she was in shock...she smelled of smoke, and according to the neighbor she stayed with until we got back, cried and screamed until we got home.
During the first few month of working with the insurance (they found us a house to live in while ours was being rebuilt), I had MAJOR issues with controlling my blood sugar (doc said it was from the stresses) , and Onyx continued this rather disturbing behavior.  Our roommates had made other living arrangements, but we stayed in close touch.  One day while we were visiting, Onyx went into her usual routine of "corn-cobbing", and almost immediately, Kelley asked me how long she'd been doing that.  I told her it started after the fire, and I'd tried to teach her not to, but she wouldn't give up the behavior.  Kelley then asked me to check my blood sugar...it was almost 400!!  She instructed me to start testing EVERY time Onyx did either behavior, and we quickly realized...when my sugar was high, she corn-cobbed, and when it dropped she was in my face!  She was consistant, too...she NEVER alerted if there wasn't a problem.  Kelley worked with her to fine-tune her behaviors, and within 2 months, Onyx was legally certified as my Diabetic Alert animal.  
Since that time (August of 2012), she's allowed me to gain my independence again!  I am able to go places alone again, and can honestly say she's saved my life (and those who are driving around me) on more than one occasion!  Currently, I'm going through chemo (just something new to add to every day life), and she's started a new alert...she can tell me when dizziness will set in about 20 minutes ahead of time, allowing me to park if I'm driving, or find a place to sit down.  She has, without fail, become my angel on 4 legs, and I can't imagine life without her.
Article Posted By Josh Griffith
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