Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Book Review by Julia - Elle and Coach + Diabetic Alert Dogs

Kristin here: My daughter Julia wanted to write a Book Review about a book she read a couple months ago. I encouraged her to write and up and tell her story. I can't believe what a good job she did. I only had to fix a couple of punctuation marks but otherwise it was perfect. Here's what she has to tell you.  

From Julia:
About a month ago, I was spending a Wednesday afternoon after school hanging out at my favorite little local library - Cushman Library, browsing around at books and movies, when something intriguing caught my eye. It was a book with white and blue binding. I picked it up off the pile and took a good long look at it. It was a book with a girl on the cover probably about my age and a very adorable regal looking dog (a labrador retriever to be precise). I read the title for the book: Elle and Coach. So I thought to myself: “Well, isn’t that adorable?” After a minute I then noticed something else that caught my eye about the book. It was the subheading below that I didn’t notice right away. It read: “Diabetes, the fight for my daughter’s life, and the dog that changed everything." I read it again. Yes, it was about diabetes. I instantly knew that it was fate that I found this book (or was it the book that found me?). (For those of you that don’t know I have been a type one diabetic for nearly twelve years now -- since I was six). 

I sat down and instantly started reading. The book is written by a woman named Stefany Shaheen, and it tells the true story of her daughter’s struggle with diabetes. I immediately felt a connection to the story and didn’t put it down for hours. Ms. Shaheen goes on to explain how a labrador retriever diabetic alert service dog came into her family’s life. The dog is named Coach, and goes anywhere and everywhere that Elle goes. High school, dance camp, out to dinner, the theater. You name it, Coach goes there. 

But Coach doesn’t just follow Elle around for support. Coach can sense when Elle is having a low or high blood sugar. He can smell the sugar in her body as it gives off a very strong chemical scent. I don’t want to ruin the whole book, but in one part, Elle is upstairs in the bathroom taking a shower with the door closed and Coach is downstairs and he suddenly starts freaking out. So Elle’s parent’s told her to test and low and behold (haha), she was LOW. The dog was right! I was astounded and wanted to keep reading.  Overall, the book was a very quick enjoyable read. 

After I finished it, I knew my time with this book was not done. I told my parents that I wanted to apply for a diabetic alert dog like Coach. Elle had gotten her dog from an organization called CARES, Inc. The organization is out of Kansas. So, I made it my mission to contact them and find out more information. I recently called CARES, and spoke with their owner Megan Llewelyn and found some resourceful information. 

I have just recently filled out my application for a service dog. I have decided that I would most like a female Golden Retriever (although, I am truly happy with any dog that could save my life). When I spoke with CARES, they told me that once my application has been processed, the waiting period is twelve to eighteen months. After that, you go to the CARES training facility in Kansas for a week long class where you meet the dog you will be potentially be taking home at the end of the week, and work with the staff to train the dog. At the end of the week, if you pass all the tests, you get to bring your dog home with you...FOREVER!! 

The Diabetic alert dogs at CARES cost an upwards of $3,500 (CARES is extremely reasonable when it comes to pricing as some organizations sell their dogs between $25,000-$50,000), plus you have to pay for your flight to and from Kansas and the cost of the food and toys for the dog. Along with vet bills, it can become a lot of responsibility. I plan on starting a Kickstarter or GoFundMe page, when I know a little more information. If any of you readers know information about these dogs, the CARES organization, or if you even own a diabetic service dog, we’d love to hear from you!

You can find out more information on CARES, or Elle and Coach by going to these resources: 

You can purchase the book on Amazon here and you can find more about CARES, Inc. here:

Additionally you can find out about diabetic service dogs: 
The Bark

Thanks for reading - Julia.

p.s. From Kristin - If any of you readers have any experience with Diabetic Alert Dogs, please leave a comment on the blog of email me and julia at kristinnicholasATgmailDOTcom and juliadupreyATgmailDOT com. I am wondering if any smaller dogs might work considering Julia is a peanut (almost 5 feet tall and is frequently knocked over by our Great Pyrenees). Thanks - kn


Unknown said...,7399,8941

This link has information about using small dogs for this purpose.
bob y

Mrs. Witry said...

Beautiful work on the review . . . .yes, I am an English teacher/librarian.
Best of luck on getting a service dog. You certainly deserve it.
Mary Kate Witry

mmorans said...

Loved your book review and can't wait to contribute toward your service dog fund. Dogs are amazing. Oh, I also learned today that you are taller than me!

Sally said...

Hi Kristin! Hey Julia--Brilliant book review! (I'm and English teacher/librarian too!) I think a service dog would be so great for you. It sounds like you are making this your own project, but be sure to let your mom know/ask for help in fundraising because knitters are so generous! Just ask her about the Yarn Harlot's bike rally fundraising! Good luck, and thank you for sharing your inspiration!

Vermont Grand View Farm said...

One of my daughters went to college with a young woman with a diabetic alert dog. I will ask her what breed the dog was. Everyone on campus loved the dog!

Cushman in Bernardston said...

Sweet Julia,

I am so happy that you found this book at Cushman. I look forward to welcoming your service dog, and being your librarian forever (even if you move to the city)!

<3 Karen

barbar said...

Great job on the book review! I so enjoyed the book also! Good luck!
Barbara Wallace

csj0423 said...

Please keep us all posted when you have moved forward to the point of needing to raise funds. I will be in line right away!

Auntie Shan said...

Fabulous Book Report, JULIA! :-D

Have your Mom E-me when you get your "Funding" set up.

BTW, you should see if "PET-SMART" [or whatever larger pet store chain you have your way] has a "GIFT-REGISTRY"..? [Like the Bridal or Baby ones] And, sign up. - If They don't, They ought to!! Especially for Service Animals! Not to mention, some "discounts" for Owners of the latter...

hmm... Actually, that sounds like something worthwhile to sink your teeth into..? - "Contact" some of the larger Pet Store chains [Dog FOOD Companies too] and "ASK" [i.e. strongly *SUGGEST*] about Their "discount" policies - if any - regarding Those with Service Animals. It would certainly help YOU and Others, as well as make said Companies "look good" in the Public-Eye. A "win-win" for Everyone!

And then, You can WRITE your *OWN* BOOK!


Auntie Shan said...

Kris, if you're looking for a smaller dog, try talking to someone in K-9 Law Enforcement... Since the Med-Dogs are being trained for a "specific" scent, I'm going to assume that the procedure is likely similar to those used in Law Enforcement..? In which case, I've seen smaller dogs like Beagles used. - Although, I've also heard that Beagles can be a tad "nasty"..? You definitely need one with a gentler disposition.
whatever. It's an alternative "knowledge" source to draw on.


Unknown said...

Julia, I am so proud of you for the way you have taken the initiative in getting yourself what you need. You are growing into a powerful young woman! Best wishes as you move forward. And do keep us all posted via your mom's blog. xo from Sarah in Oregon

Unknown said...

Awesome review, Julia 😊✋👏

Unknown said...

Awesome review, Julia 😊✋👏

hivetender said...

Lovely review. I will look for the book as well now. Please let us know when you start your fund raising as I would love to help. I own three goldens and they are my 9th, 10th, and 11th goldens to own. They are all sweet, gentle and the most amazing companions a person could hope for. Size won't matter too much...sometimes the bigger the more gentle. They make great companions for folks of all ages and sizes.
Best wishes and thanks for writing a great guest blog and review.

Nan said...

Great job Julia! What a well written article. Let us know when your fund raiser starts!

Michele in Maine said...

Great review, Julia! I'm sure you will go far with this plan, and I look forward to contributing to your funding campaign when you are ready! You can do it!

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter who is diabetic. She and her husband bought a miniature long haired dachshund as a pet and named her Patches. Patches turned out to be an amazing diabetic alert dog with no training. She will wake my daughter from a deep sleep when she senses high blood sugar and has been a lifesaver (literally) for my daughter. Good for you for taking the initiative to manage your diabetes and good luck with your alert dog. No doubt the two of you will be lifelong companions.

NancyP said...

Wow! What a great job you did on that review, Julia. Trust your Mom will keep us up to date on the progress with getting your special companion. Looking forward to making a contribution and hearing about your progress with your new companion.

cyndywehr said...

Kristin - this was a great book review, and enlightened us to a new resource for people with diabetes. Tell Julia she did an awesome job.

Susanne said...

Awesome review Julia; you write extremely well!

Pam H said...

What a great post! I'm off to the library to see if I can find the book and read it myself. Thank you Julia for sharing.

Mary Lou said...

Let us all know when you are ready for your Kickstarter!

woolywoman said...

I have a service dog, for a different disability, and he has made a huge improvement in my quality of life! I don't know how I managed without him! Best of luck in your journey. Ps. There is a reputable website called service dog central with a lot of info. Be careful what you read on the internet, there is a lot of nonsense. has the law about service animals.

Patti said...

Great book review, Julia. I live 3 ½ hours from Concordia, KS. If you make this happen, I can pick you up at the airport in Kansas City - if that is where you fly into - and you can stay at our house in Olathe, KS if you need before going on to Concordia. I look forward to meeting you later this month when I come for one of your mother's workshops!

Unknown said...

Lovely book review, Julia! I will read this too. I'll be delighted to help in any way you see a role for me.
Keep up the fantastic work. Gail

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