Making a Difference with Cleo a Diabetic Alert Dog

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin which regulates the body’s glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes is not caused by diet or lifestyle habits.

As of 2020, an estimated 1.4 million adults over 20 years old had Type 1 diabetes, and as of 2020 187,000 people under 20 years old in the U.S. had Type on diabetes, including Clara.

Clara and Cleo
Clara holding her Diabetic Alert Dog Cleo

Clara lives in Wesley Chapel, FL and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on May 25, 2018, at 6 years old. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease with no known cure. 

Now 11 years old, Clara is fully insulin dependent and uses a Dexcom G6 Glucose Monitor and a Tandem tSlim x2 Insulin Pump but continues to struggle to regulate and maintain safe glucose levels on a daily basis.

Clara’s mom, Lynsie met Cutting Edge Regional Sales Manager Jeff Miller through a mutual friend in 2020. After connecting over medical hardships, Jeff suggested that Lynsie explore options for Clara to obtain a Diabetic Alert Dog. 

Diabetic Alert Dogs are trained to detect drops in blood sugar through smelling compounds that are released from a person’s body when glucose levels are too low. This allows a person to take action to correct their blood sugar levels before they reach dangerous levels.

“In the end, Cleo will be able to alert Clara of any Diabetic lows; Levels that are 80 and lower,” shares Lynsie. “Clara is unable to recognize these without the assistance of devices. Moreover, after multiple device failures and close calls, it was determined Clara would benefit from the help of a trained service dog.”

Jeff, Kim, Clara, and Cleo
Left to Right: Jeff Miller, Kim Bissing holding Cleo, and Clara.

Jeff and Lynsie then reached out to Kim Bissing, Founder and Owner of Beyond the Leash Dog Training. Kim is also a Clinical Support Specialist with Cutting Edge Laser Technologies, supporting training efforts and case specific questions.

Kim agreed to take on the task of training a Diabetic Alert Dog for Clara. After talking with Kim, Jeff reached out to Mark Mollenkopf, President of Cutting Edge Laser Technologies, to see if Cutting Edge would be willing to sponsor Clara’s service dog.

“Cutting Edge is thrilled to support Clara and her family though our fundraising efforts and partnership,” Mark Mollenkopf stated. “Everyone at Cutting Edge can’t wait to see how Cleo’s training progresses to help Clara manage her Type 1 Diabetes and thrive moving forward.”

Jeff began collaborating with the Cutting Edge corporate office to kickstart the donation process. From there, the work of raising additional funds for the diabetic alert dog and collaborating with other supporters, such as O’Brien’s Irish Pub in Wesley Chapel, FL began. They set a goal to raise $20,000 and started planning the first fundraiser.

Hosted by Jeff Miller and Cutting Edge Laser Technologies, the first fundraiser was held in April 2022 and included raffles for various prizes. While Kim was unable to attend, she sent a video to be played throughout the evening, explaining her and the dog’s role in the event. Turnout was high and the event was successful, but the amount raised was still short of their goal.

Cleo as a puppy

While the team continued to brainstorm ideas to reach the fundraising goal, Kim Bissing was able to secure a Bernadoodle puppy through a strict selection process. After much deliberation on name options and trying to find a combination of Clara’s name and Cutting Edge Laser Technologies, Lynsie and Jeff decided to name the Diabetic Alert Dog Cleo. 

A second fundraiser was scheduled for July 2022 in Wesley Chapel where Kim brought Cleo along with another Beyond the Leash trainer. 

After the fundraiser, Cleo was left with Clara and her family to encourage handler training and bonding. Every Saturday Clara and Lynsie make the 2-hour drive from Wesley Chapel to Orlando to participate in training with Kim at Beyond the Leash. Training has been successful and progress will continue to be made as training progresses.

Regarding the overall experience, Lynsie says  “the experience has been very demanding. Between fundraising, and traveling 2 hours each way for weekly training, along with the day-to-day focus and direction from the trainers, it’s been a very tedious process. However, it has thus far proven to be very beneficial.”

Cleo at VMX
Cleo the Diabetic Alert Dog at VMX 2023

“As for now, Cleo is still in the handler/bonding level of training,” Lynsie says. “Clara and Cleo work closely together daily to ensure Cleo understands and recognizes Clara’s scent, voice, commands, mannerisms, and such.” 

Clara, Lynsie and Cleo were invited by Jeff to attend the Veterinary Meeting and Expo (VMX) in Orlando, FL in January 2023. Cutting Edge was honored to have them as guests and invited them to return to their booth at the 2024 VMX event to demonstrate Cleo’s impressive skills and spread awareness of the vital work that services animals and their trainers perform.

Meet Clara and Cleo as well as the Cutting Edge Laser Technologies and Beyond the Leash teams in booth 2123 and attend a Diabetic Alert Dog Skill Demonstrations Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday at 11:45 am or 1:00 pm.

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