Fresh from the ECAD Blog
Thanks to your support Sterling was there when Thomas needed him most.
Service Dog Sterling is a Lifesaver—LITERALLY!
“Sterling is such a fabulous Service Dog that I am used to his assisting me in all the ways I need, but this time what he did was positively life saving,” said Thomas Griffen of Fairfield, CT. Griffen and the ECAD trained Service Dog have been together since October 2016.
Griffen, 60, a retired educator, got Service Dog Sterling to help him with symptoms caused by his Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Type 1 Diabetes. Stage 2A (early stage) lung cancer was diagnosed soon after the two were paired in 2016 but that condition is now stable and cancer free. Sterling was trained for the first two years of his life by ECAD to respond to 80 plus commands, and in Griffen’s case, assists him with balance for his MS, and reacts in certain helpful ways if Griffen’s insulin pump alarm goes off due to a change in his sugar levels.
Sterling’s presence and the security he has given Griffen allows for a quality of life to be maintained, one that includes camping and being an activist for Service Dog related issues. This life saving incident occurred when Griffen was camping with Sterling at Lone Oak Campsites in East Canaan, CT.
“During the night, Sterling jumped on my chest, waking me up out of a sound sleep. Once he knew I was awake, he brought me the bag which contains all my blood testing paraphernalia, then he flew into the kitchen in our trailer opened the fridge as he has been trained to do by tugging on the attached rope, and brought me a bottle of orange juice,” Griffen recounted. “I was astounded to say the least. I thought, what’s going on here.”
Griffen was surprised by Sterling’s actions because the insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring machine that tracks Griffen’s blood sugar level through the tube to which he is attached 24/7 had not sounded an alert. When Griffen checked, the machine was “dead as a door nail,” but Sterling reacted to a change in Griffin’s chemistry and did what was necessary even though the machine had not beeped. If Sterling had not acted it could have resulted in a trip to the ER or worse.
But because of the support ECAD receives from the community and it’s donors, Sterling was more than educated enough to be the lifesaver Thomas needed in that moment.
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“Because of ECAD’s supporters, intensive training and the client’s consistency in reinforcing and giving praise when Sterling does something correctly, i.e., reacting to the alert, Sterling knew what to do when he sensed the change in Tom’s blood chemistry. This change validated his action, even without the beep of the machine,” said Lu Picard, ECAD co-founder and director of programs.
Once Griffen noted that the machine was not working, he went back to the old fashioned way of testing his blood every two hours. He alerted the machine’s manufacturer to the malfunction and was sent by overnight delivery a new replacement machine. Meanwhile, and just in case, he has Service Dog Sterling who will not malfunction, thanks to YOU!
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