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.[i]
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.[ii]
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.
Lynsie says that, “in the end, Cleo will be able to alert Clara of any Diabetic lows. Levels that are 80 and lower. 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 and Lynsie then reached out to Kim Bissing, Founder and Owner of Beyond the Leash Dog Training, who 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 Miller 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 said. “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 then 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.
The first fundraiser was held in April 2022, with Jeff hosting the event as MC, the event included raffles for various prizes including lotto trees, 50/50, and other prizes. While Kim was unable to attend this event, she sent a video to be played throughout the evening, explaining her and the dog’s role in the event. While turnout was high and the event was successful, the amount raised was still short of the goal.
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.
After many discussions on how to reach the $20,000 goal, a second fundraiser was set up. The second fundraiser was held in July 2022 where Kim brought Cleo to the event in Wesley Chapel along with another Beyond the Leash trainer. After the fundraiser, Cleo was left with Clara and the rest of her family to encourage handler training and bonding. Every Saturday Clara and Lynsie make the 2-hour drive from Wesley Chapel, FL to Orlando, FL to participate in training with Kim at Beyond the Leash. Training has been successful so far, and progress will continue to be made as training progresses.
Regarding the overall experience so far, 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.”
Recently, Clara, Lynsie and Cleo were invited by Jeff to attend the Veterinary Meeting and Expo in Orlando, FL in January 2023. Cutting Edge was honored to have them as our guests.
Fundraising efforts to reach the $20,000 to assist in the training and care of Cleo are still underway. “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. The training will continue for another 8-12 months, under direction from the trainers at Beyond the Leash.”