James Phifer, 41, Service Animal/Type 1 Diabetes
How would you explain a Service Animal and Type 1 Diabetes to a child?
My service animal helps me stay healthy by detecting high and low blood sugar through scent. Many diseases are invisible like my condition being a Type 1 Diabetic. Having a service animal to help keep me healthy brings attention to an otherwise invisible disease.
What would you want the world to know about a Service Animal and Type 1 Diabetes?
It can feel very uncomfortable having an animal in a place animals are normally not allowed. A service animal's success is based on having a strong bond with their person, called a “handler”. It is very important not to draw the service animals attention by petting, whistling, eye contact, tongue clicking or other forms of distraction. Many dogs love all people and crave attention, but it is very important to not distract a service animal. However, most handlers are very nice and open to answering questions from people who are curious. I love when kids ask me about my dog, so please ask away!
What does it feel like to live with a Service Animal and Type 1 Diabetes?
It often feels like you don’t want anyone to know, which can be very lonely and challenging. The struggles people with Type 1 have can vary from feeling confused when blood sugar is low, to feeling agitated when blood sugars are high.
What brings you joy?
My family always has my best interest at heart. It often feels like everyone is working to help me be as healthy as possible. From my wife and children carrying candy for me, to my dog giving me alerts and comfort during a time of need.
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