Sue & Jake
Jake took on a big job for a young dog, when he stepped up to fill Caspar’s role as Susan’s alert dog. Susan, says of Jake, a black lab, ‘He was a young but mature soul with an old wise head on his broad shoulders’.
Caspar, a miniature apricot poodle, was Susan’s alert dog for over 11 years. Sadly just before reaching retirement, he died from an underlying heart condition. ‘It’s almost as if Casper knew he had trained Jake well to look after me and knew he was leaving me in safe capable paws’.
Susan, who has had type 1 diabetes for 21 years, lives with her husband Mike, and son Elliott in Purley, Surrey. She describes the great bond she had with Caspar, who gave her the freedom to continue working and enjoying life because of his precise and consistent alerts. ‘He was like my little shadow’. But by the time he was 11 it was necessary to discuss his phased retirement, as Susan knew that despite having an insulin pump and a sensor, she relied heavily on her dog.
She was very concerned about how Caspar would cope with another dog. ’I was quite anxious about his retirement ,’ says Susan. ‘I did not know how he would cope being left behind when Jake and I went off to work in the morning, but we never got to find out how he would have managed’.
Thankfully, 3 year old Jake was able to take over from where Caspar left off. A very calm dog, he and Caspar enjoyed long walks with Susan and got to know each other well, before Caspar’s death aged 13. ‘I started to take both dogs to the school office where I work. Jake quickly fitted into the team. He loves to play with his toys and wants everyone to throw balls and toys for him all the time. He is a typical lab and will go around the office to check out everyone’s lunch at lunchtime before settling on his bed to watch us all eat’.
Since taking over Jake has successfully alerted Susan to impending hypos and helped her keep her blood sugars in range when they start to creep up. ‘He rarely misses a low blood sugar which has given me confidence. Over a weekend Duke of Edinburgh silver award camping trip he alerted 4 times. Once was at 2am when we were alone in a tent, so I know he has me covered’.
Jake has accompanied Susan to see ABBA voyage, something she could not have enjoyed, without him at her side. To add to his accomplishments, he was right by her side when producing a school production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he even made an appearance on stage. A star who takes life in his stride.