Mike Pastir & Diabetes Assist Dog Paris
Mike Pastir was only 10 years old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In the time since, diabetes has led to neuropathy and renal problems. Mike is an office manager at a towing company and lives with wife, Betty, in New Brighton, Minn. Needing some help managing his diabetes, he learned about Can Do Canines through a colleague.
“Even though I test regularly, I can no longer feel or sense when my blood sugar drops to dangerous levels,” Mike wrote in his application. “A dog would help me take appropriate actions to prevent this.”
After applying, Can Do Canines partnered Mike with Paris, a two-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever. The Diabetes Assist Dog loves to work—a quality not lost on the volunteers who helped raise her.
“Paris is a sweet girl who is taking well to her training,” wrote one Foster Home volunteer. “She is ready and eager to work. She will thrive once she is finally out doing the work that she’s been destined to do. My only concern is that we don’t always keep her busy enough to challenge that sharp mind of hers. She wants to work and wants to please her trainer.
When Paris was introduced to Mike, the two turned out to be a great match and training went smoothly. “I didn’t have any problem with it. Paris trained me well,” Mike jokes.
Paris alerts Mike when his blood sugar drops by nudging him and she also brings him an emergency phone and juice when his sugars are low. She is so good at her job that Mike estimates that Paris alerts him 80 to 90 percent of the time—and he says even that might be an underestimate.
“The time that I think she has missed, she really hasn’t. I missed her cues,” Mike says.
While Paris’s primary job is alerting Mike when his blood sugar falls, in addition, the Lab loves to stay busy and helps out in any way she can. “She does other things for me,” Mike says. “She gets my shoes and she’ll pick up things that I drop.”
Paris has returned to Mike the sense of independence and confidence that he once lost. “I’m not afraid to go places by myself anymore,” Mike says. “At work, a lot of times I’m there by myself. Not only is she helping with diabetes, but she’s also a great companion, and I think we have bonded so well. I’ve never bonded with a dog like this before.”
Because Paris is on hand to take care of Mike, his wife Betty doesn’t have to worry as much and her life has also gotten easier. “I’m getting more sleep,” Betty says. “I don’t have to sleep with one ear open, like a mother, listening for the babies.”
Mike gets emotional when he thinks about all the people who helped raise Paris. “Thank you,” he says through tears. “You don’t know how much I appreciate it. She’s just great.”
And to those who contribute to Can Do Canines, Mike observes that anything is appreciated. “Even the people that are able to give 10 dollars – every little bit helps,” says Mike. “Nickels and dimes make dollars.”