Like buying a new car, or searching out a new doctor you need to do your homework! You need to “test drive” every single organization that you are considering purchasing a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) from. Think of it this way, you are interviewing these organizations to train you a personal life saving “employee” if you will. You will take this employee with you everywhere. What qualities would you look for in the company training your employee, and what qualities would you look for in the final product of your personal employee, your life line, your fully trained DAD!? My best piece of advise, as you go through your research process would be, if at ANY point, you feel uncomfortable with the information you are given, if you get a “gut feeling” that something isn’t right, it most likely isn’t. Trust your instinct. Do NOT sign anything and do not send any money until you are certain you are comfortable in your decision.
You have the right to ask about anything! Lets be very clear, you are about to spend and/or fund raise a very large amount of money so choosing the best organization to train your DAD is a very big decision! While some may make this decision very quickly, others may take a much longer time to decide which organization is right for them. We spent an entire year deciding whether or not a diabetic alert dog was the right choice for our family. Once we decided that is was the right choice, we spent another year researching dozens of Diabetic Alert Dog organizations. I asked hundreds of questions, literally. You have to be committed and you will need to make the time to get all of your questions answered. I promise it will be worth it in the end. Unfortunately, there are people out there that are not in this for the right reasons. There are several organizations out there that are “training” diabetic alert dogs, but are really in it for the money. People that are placed with an untrained or incorrectly trained DAD will end up with a dog that does not alert to your impending high or low blood sugars and in the end you will just have a very expensive pet. To train one of these dogs correctly, and efficiently truly is very expensive and takes countless hours on the trainers behalf.
Questions, Questions and MORE QUESTIONS! I will note in my next blog several of the questions that I asked when interviewing potential organizations to train our daughter’s DAD.