Mike Haugen and Diabetes Assist Dog Charlie
In the first two months after Diabetes Assist Dog Charlie went to live with Mike Haugen in Mankato, Minn. he saved his life multiple times by alerting Mike to his low blood sugar level.
“Charlie is a lifesaver and has made a big difference in my life,” Mike declares.
Mike has had type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years; he is unable to work full-time, walks with a cane, and has been hospitalized in the past due to hypoglycemic unawareness. Hypoglycemia unawareness is a common—and dangerous—condition that can develop in people like Mike with type 1 diabetes. He doesn’t experience the symptoms most people do when his blood sugar gets too low. Very low blood sugar levels could cause Mike to experience seizures or even go into a coma.
Three years ago Mike’s doctor recommended he look into getting a Can Do Canines Diabetes Assist Dog. Mike went home and immediately sent in his application. Mike and his wife Teresa decided that since the waiting period for his assistance dog might be lengthy they would use the opportunity to get involved with Can Do Canines in a meaningful way. The couple volunteered with the Prison Puppy Program at the Federal Correctional Institution in Waseca and provided “furloughs” for numerous dogs in training. During furloughs Mike and Teresa brought the dogs out into the community and socialized them to things not experienced in prison, such as car rides and grocery store visits. The experience gave them an intimate knowledge and appreciation for all the time and effort that goes into training an assistance dog.
Finally, after a three year wait, Mike’s time had come and Can Do Canines partnered him with a lovable golden retriever named Charlie. As a Diabetes Assist Dog Charlie monitors Mike’s breath for a specific scent that clues him to rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels; he then alerts Mike by nudging him and letting him know it’s time to test. Charlie’s quick alerts give Mike time to take preventive action so his health is not compromised.
A devoted assistant, Charlie gets to go everywhere with Mike and Teresa. Charlie carries a backpack filled with essential items needed in case of an emergency and he’s persistent in alerting Mike when his blood sugar is low. Charlie is definitely where he wants to be—right next to Mike—and the deep affection between the two is clear. Teresa is grateful for the peace of mind she has knowing Charlie is always with Mike; Teresa says, “Charlie means so much to us.”
When asked about all the volunteers and donors who helped make Charlie a reality, Mike and Teresa are at a loss for words. “Thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough,” Mike says. “These dogs save lives and change people’s lives for the better. It’s hard to express the true thank you I want to express.”
Mike continues to pay it forward by speaking in public about his experience with Can Do Canines. He already has three future presentations on the calendar. He simply says, “This is where I need to be and I just have to be involved.”
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Puppy Raiser—Diana Adamson & Paul Oberhaus.
Special Thanks— The Inmate Handlers at the Federal Correctional Institute at Sandstone; The Inmate Handlers at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Faribault
Dog Source—Candice Lund
Name-A-Puppy Donor—Lions District 5M1