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Life and Times of a Working Cowgirl

Leigh-Lou

Service dog (diabetic alert dog and psychiatric service dog)

Leigh-Lou, or Lou for short, is almost eleven years old.  We adopted her from Furburbia(friends of animals Park City, Utah) in 2003 with the intention of her being a family pet, and mostly a friend for our lone dog Smokie, a  catahoula with too much energy and not enough to do.   She was in sorry shape, and had a lot of issues, but she bonded with my daughters, ages nine and six and had a strong maternal instinct to care for them.  She started naturally alerting to Amelia’s blood sugars and paying special attention to her when she was having lows, always watching her and coming to get me when Amelia was too confused.  Her career as an in home service dog started with that, and we taught her to do specific things to react to changes in blood sugar.  She was a fantastic in home service dog, and she and Amelia worked through both of  their psychological issues together as well as the diabetes.  She learned a few psychological service dog tasks while she was an in home dog, but the majority of Amelia’s troubles were in public, so she could only help her so much.  However, this fall Lou became a fully public working dog, mentally and physically sound enough to do her work with Amelia everywhere.  She was ready for public access, having gone to select places with Amelia since her junior year in high school, so down to NMSU they went.  She lives with Amelia in the dorms, they have a room to themselves but otherwise are in the same arrangement as most other students.  She loves going to class and walking all around campus, and meeting new people ever day.  Since she has been with Amelia 24/7 her alerting consistency has gone up to where Amelia is incredibly surprised if she notices her blood getting out of range before Lou does.  Lou has learned new ways to react to Amelia’s blood sugars and learned a whole new set of psychological tasks.  She is however, getting to old to be a working dog, and so, as wonderful as she is, and well as she is doing we are already having to plan for her retirement. It will take a year or two to have a dog ready to do what she can.  Thats why we have…Merlin.