How will it work with Ruby when Faith is old enough to bring her to school? Will you get another DAD for Hope at that time?
A form of this question is one we’ve been asked over and over since we got Ruby: “What about when Faith goes to school? Will Ruby be able to go with her?” Yes, she would be able to (except that we homeschool, so she already does ), but that doesn’t mean that we would make her…or even want her to, necessarily. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but this is hard – and taking a DAD to school multiplies that exponentially.
Having a service dog is not something I would ever push on my girls. It has been our stand since the beginning, that we would prepare Faith to take over handling Ruby when she was ready, but we would never require it. Faith did not get to choose whether or not she would have diabetes, and I have no choice but to hand over that responsibility little by little. Even at the tender age of 4 years, Faith is already expected to check her own blood sugar at meal times. Only mealtimes – all other checks throughout the day are still my responsibility. And, she will remind you if you ask her to check herself any other time of the day. ”Mom, remember, we had a deal…I only have to check my own self at mealtimes – it’s your turn.” She knows that she can’t eat anything until we’ve measured, counted carbs, and dosed insulin. She knows she can’t share her carbs with her friends. She knows she has to wear her pump at all times. Bit by bit, however and whenever age-appropriate, I have to prepare Faith for a lifetime of managing this disease – of carrying this burden. We don’t have a choice in that one. But, by God, she WILL have a choice about Ruby.
Even though every decision we’ve made since getting Ruby has been filtered through the idea of “how will this affect Faith and Ruby’s future relationship”, we totally leave it up to Faith. Even now, at age 4, she is allowed to handle Ruby as much or as little as she desires. The only thing we require is that Faith feed and water Ruby daily. I chose this, so all other DAD responsibilities lie squarely on my shoulders. Some days she wants to be the sole handler, and we encourage her as long as she follows the rules and does it correctly. She’s actually growing in to a fabulous DAD handler, and I’m very proud of how she does. However, if she never wanted to handle Ruby again, that would be ok, too. I would continue on as Ruby’s handler and would just prompt Faith to check when Ruby alerts. (Like we do now.) When Ruby can no longer work, and it is time to look for her successor, we will leave that decision up to Faith.
So, back to the question about what will happen when Hope is older. The honest answer to that is that I don’t know. What I do know is that 2 DADs working for 2 different children would be too much for me to handle right now. Faith and Ruby’s relationship will take precedence, and if Faith decides in a couple years that she wants to be Ruby’s primary handler that will be ok, and we’ll figure out what to do then. In the meantime, we’ll keep working on having Ruby alert for both girls and be able to point out which girl is out of range. One thing to remember is that we don’t know how long to expect that Ruby will be physically able to work. Because we’re sort of on the front end of DADs in general, there’s not a lot of teams ahead of us in terms of longevity. The longest successful working team that I know of right now is 6 years old. Mr Darcy is still going strong, but we don’t know how much longer to reasonably expect. Considering we are already working on our 4th year with Ruby, it is possible that we will be looking into Ruby’s successor before we have to make the decision about each girl needing their own DAD. It is totally possible for working DADs to coexist in the same household, we will just have to be to a point where at least one girl is handling her own dog. We are also blessed that there is very little, if any, sibling rivalry/jealousy among our children. Faith is excited that Ruby can help keep Hope safe, too, and it hasn’t bothered her at all to share.
So, for the moment that’s what we’re going with…
Anything else you’re curious about? Comment below with your questions and I’ll try to answer them for you!