Tattle Tails got its name from one of the first litters I imprinted with diabetic scent. There was a pup in that litter I nicknamed Snitch because of how good he was at finding the scent that was set out. He was a pretty sickly pup. Honestly, I should have let him go early on but it is extremely hard for me to give up on dogs. I spent thousands of dollars trying to find out what was wrong with him to no avail. I sought out the best vets I could find, and they could tell me little more than there was something wrong with his immune system. The day I made the decision to put him down, I had taken him in to the vet because he had a temperature of nearly 104 degrees. He was sick and lethargic and it just made my heart hurt. We discussed all the options but it was clear he didn’t have many left. A 9-week-old puppy… it was too soon! I made the decision to put him down, and as soon as I did of course all the emotions hit me at once. Being a Type 1 Diabetic, getting upset means my blood glucose drops like a rock. At just 9 weeks old, and with as sick as he was, Snitch managed to jump off of the exam table and began alerting me to my low blood glucose! He then started to alert the techs to my low as well. Seeing this, one of them exclaimed “I think he is tattling on you!”
My little Tattle Tail crossed the rainbow bridge, but not without first strengthening my resolve to Diabetic Alert Dogs and Diabetics all over.
My name is KC Owens and I am the human behind Tattle Tail Scent Dogs. I am someone who prefers to live and think outside the box. I have never been a status quo kind of person. I believe in trying to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. I do things simply because I can or simply because I want to learn more. I dislike people being taken advantage of. I guess that’s why I chose Social Work as the profession with which I support my dog habit! That is also why I got involved with Diabetic Alert Dogs, and more specifically, the self-training of these dogs!
I have always been in the dog world in some way. Stories have it that I took my first steps holding onto a dog’s collar. Growing up on a farm, we had a variety of dogs; everything from hounds, to working stock dogs, to mutts, to bird dogs. I loved them all and always found a way to be involved. I would often place all the baby puppies in a basket on my bike and take them for rides.
Around 20 years ago I started into competitive dog sports like hunt tests, field trials, obedience, rally, agility, and dock jumping. Add to that therapy dog involvement, and I guess you could say I have a dog’s life!
On and off throughout my life I have dealt with various Autoimmune issues. In early 2000 they officially diagnosed me as Diabetic. They first thought I was a Type 2, but my body never responded to treatment correctly. I changed diets, I exercised more, I took pills, and still my collective blood glucose number (A1C) inched up. About 5 years ago my A1C reached a level of 13 (normal is under 6). Something else had to be done. Finally they ran the correct blood work and discovered I was a Late Onset Type 1. Type 1 is thought of as Juvenile Diabetes, but occasionally it doesn’t develop until adulthood in some people.
When my Diabetes was at its worst, my Chesapeake Bay Retriever Bravo was just under 2 years of age. Honestly, Bravo is not the most talented competition dog I have owned (though he is still very talented in competitions). What he has a lot of though, is heart. He has a desperate need to be right and to be told so! Bravo is the kind of dog that wants to know exactly what his job is.
One day I was sitting in my chair and Bravo got up from his chew toy and stood in front of me. He did what I call the “pee dance” (needs to go outside). I went to the door and opened it, and he stood there and looked at me as if to say “I don’t need to go out”. So I went back and sat down. This time, he came up and laid his head in my lap, then backed up and did the “pee dance” again. I got up to let him out, and again he refused. Within minutes he repeated it again, only this time he jumped up and put his front feet on my shoulders and wrapped me in a hug. At that moment I also realized I did not feel well. I had that tell-tale shaky queasy feeling of a low blood glucose. After treating it I thought to myself, “What just happened? Did I imagine that? Wow! Did my dog just detect my low blood glucose?” I began logging his behavior in conjunction with my blood glucose after that. Sure enough, that was exactly what he was doing! Over time, I began the process of refining his alert.
Bravo is more than my life saver. He is my friend, companion, and a shoulder to laugh and cry on when I need it! I would trade every ribbon I ever won with this dog for just one alert. And mind you, his ribbon and award collection is mind boggling. Bravo started me on a journey to combine my love and knowledge of dogs with my love and desire to help people. He is my personal Alert Dog, but I now also whelp and train Diabetic Alert Dogs for others.
The pups that I whelp and raise are scent imprinted, extensively socialized to a wide variety of situations, and exposed to massive amounts of real time diabetic scent. To date, all of the pups I have placed have alerted within the first 24 hours of being in their new homes. I live, breathe, eat, and sleep with these pups! My heart and soul goes into every litter!
These dogs are not meant as a cure, but as an aid to the management of Diabetes. They are our friends, our companions and our lifelines! I am honored and blessed to have traveled this road and to be able to share what I have learned. When a new owner sets their resolve and says “I want, need, and DESERVE an Alert Dog.” and they commit to putting a lot of hard work and effort into self training, amazing things happen. It is not easy, but it is very possible and very rewarding. Starting with a puppy that knows scent, has a foundation of learning, and comes from carefully selected parents sets people up to be successful. Not everyone wants a full Service Dog. Some just want an extra set of eyes, and a nose that can lend a helping hand. Others do want a full Service Dog; a dog that will alert consistently to high and low blood glucoses, and be on hand at all times. No matter what people want, starting with a solid pup makes the journey easier.
I am not just in the business of selling pups. If you choose to go with a different breeder or a rescue, you still have my support! It isn’t about the money, it is about the relationship we form with our dogs and what their nose can do for us once we unlock the secret of nose and behavior! Diabetes is not just with us for the lifetime of a dog, it is a life sentence. Why not commit to learning how this happens instead of relying on someone else to do it for us.
If you are like me and you are not afraid of hard work or getting down and dirty and learning new things, are willing to work hard to get what you need and deserve, don’t have 10k to 20K laying around to buy a finished dog, and can think outside the box, then self training is for you!
Come on in, look around, and ask questions. You might find you have a new person in your corner in the battle against this disease!