Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Heaven Scent Paws trains Diabetic Alert Service Dogs

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In a recent post I shared the story of Mark Rinkel -- a boy selling lemonade to raise money to buy a diabetes service dog for his younger brother Jason. FYI, he's raised $5,013 toward a $6,000 goal. Go Mark! The Rinkel family is purchasing their dog from Heaven Scent Paws, a training company for diabetes service dogs.

Heaven Scent Paws (HSP) was started by Michele Reinkenmeyer and her family after their young son Joseph had a series of diabetic seizures shortly after his type 1 diagnosis in 2000. Michele had no experience in dog training, but in desperation to help her son, she came across an internet article describing a St. Bernard naturally capable of alerting his owner during hyperglycemic episodes. With a strong hunch a dog could be trained to alert, Michele immersed herself in dog training literature, fired off questions to dog experts, and designed her very own dog alert training plan. Money was tight with six children to feed, but Michele and her husband spent $1,000 for a 10 week old German Shepherd named Delta. Long story short, slow and steady scent training worked, and Delta has protected Joseph ever since. Daughter Alice, also a type 1 diabetic, is chaperoned by her service labrador, Lance.

Steadily over time Michele and family built a thriving business specializing in Diabetes Alert and Seizure Alert/Response Service Dogs. They have surrounded themselves with a core team of veterinarians, Master Trainers, Puppy Handlers and even a 'Dog Whisperer', among others. The wait is four years for a Heaven Scent Paws trained, mature dog, but do not despair. HSP also offers an intensive 3 Week Class Program where dogs have been trained by HSP for 7-12 months, at which time purchasers meet their dog and intensely train together under HSP's guidance for another three weeks. Cost is $6,000, includes hotel accommodations, and you leave with a service dog. The next open class is in February 2008. HSP also offers a Do It Yourself Course for self-starters or individuals with a dog training background. Photo is of an eight-week puppy in training, from HSP's website.

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