Standing Up For Sugar, the Hypoglycemia Alert Dog  

Meagan Esler

| Dec 20, 2011

We are a tight-knit community.  I'm not talking about my neighbors in my hometown of Chicago.  I'm talking about my worldwide neighbors in the diabetic online community.  Anyone dealing with diabetes knows the bond that it brings.  When a person with diabetes is wronged, the rest of us feel the sting.  Most of us living with diabetes have stories about people badgering our diet choices, saying inappropriate or insensitive things, and, sadly, crossing the line even further.

An insulin-dependent diabetic friend of mine, Jim Murray of Pennsylvania, recently stopped at a local store to purchase some milk. He brought along his hypoglycemia alert dog, Sugar. Suddenly, the clerk ordered Jim and his dog to get out of the store.  Jim calmly explained to the clerk that Sugar was not just a pet, but rather, a service dog.  Because diabetes is not a visible illness, people often don't realize that Sugar has an extremely important job.  Jim even carries papers to prove that he needs his dog to travel with him.  

A second clerk came on the scene and said that Sugar's presence was permissible because she was "like a blind dog," but the first clerk resisted, shouting that he could tell that Jim wasn't blind. The clerk threatened to call the police if Jim didn't leave, to which Jim replied, "Go ahead. It saves me the trouble of calling them myself!"    

As a person with type 1 diabetes, this story was enough to make my own blood sugar rise.  To anyone who's ever passed out from low blood sugar, Sugar is a four-legged hero.  People with diabetes are rendered helpless if their blood sugar goes too low.  They can end up unconscious and even experience seizures or brain damage.  Sugar is Jim's guardian, there to  help him avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.  

Several of Jim's local friends offered to boycott the store because of the insulting clerk.  Others offered to write strongly worded letters to the store's corporate office about Jim's inappropriate and illegal treatment.   

Jim decided to handle the situation by notifying the local police so that they could make sure that such an event didn't happen to anyone else, regardless of disability.  The officers reported back that the clerk won't be denying assistance to people with service animals again.  

There is a lot of ignorance about diabetes.  People still believe that if you have diabetes, you are just not allowed to eat sugar.  They have no idea of the dangers that low blood sugar can pose.  They don't know about all the things people with diabetes go through on a daily basis, not just to survive, but to live a happy, healthy, and normal life.

They don't realize that a beautiful dog like Sugar could literally save a life.  

To visit Sugar's Facebook page, click on this link:!/pages/Sugar/201997379879246.


Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Badgering, Diabetes, Diabetes, Diabetic Online Community, Diet Choices, Four-Legged Hero, Hypoglycemia Alert Dog, Insulin-Dependent, Life-Threatening, Low Blood Sugar, Service Animals, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 1 Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 20 December 2011

Hi! The link to Sugar's FB page is not enabled. Please tell me the actual name of Sugar's page and I will be able to find it. My son has Type I. 

Posted by allenhoward2000 on 22 December 2011

I have to ask why Mr. Murray couldn't have simply tested his blood sugar in the car, pre-entering the store to buy the milk. I am a Type I diabetic also and I have a history of low blood sugar incidents, some of which went undetected and landed me in the local hospital but I make sure my blood sugar is normal before entering any store, which normally doesn't take much time, especially if I use the fast line for a few items.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 December 2011

This story is ridiculous. There are much larger issues facing persons with diabetes. Take your glucose reading before going to the store and keep your dog in the car for 15 minutes while you shop. We should only fight battles worth fighting.

Posted by angivan on 23 December 2011

With all due respect, I assume this was a convenience store, so a 2-minute trip inside to get milk would normally not need a service dog. Also, was the dog wearing appropriate service dog insignia? I am a type 1 myself, but I realize that clerks in food service settings are required by law to police these situations since people often try to bring in their animals.

Posted by Anonymous on 24 December 2011

Our girl yorkie has awakened my wife when I was experiencing a very low blood glucose event, and I am very thankful for her caring for me. That goes for Little Girl and my wife Ruth. The signs of falling blood glucose levels are not always obvious.
Phil K

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