Q: How much does it cost to schedule Paul, Gracie & Diane for an event?
A: They work with your budget. Since everyone at SCwSG is a volunteer all the donations go to help with the important outreach work.
Q: Why is Diane wearing wrist casts/guards in the testimonial video on the home page or the You Tube Channel?
A: Diane has deformed wrists. Her ulner bone is a 1/2 inch shorter that the radial. Instead of rotating it grinds and causes pain, inflammation & ganglione cysts. The wrist guards help reduce some of the inflammation. Diane doesn't like wearing them because they hinder and get in the way but she needs to wear them as much as possible.
Q: When you rescued Gracie from the hospital what was her name & how old was she?
A: Her name was Roxy by the father & son who had her 3 days. She was in the pet shop for 2 months & the hospital for 2 months. She was 4 mo. old when I rescued her.
Q: How did you and Gracie find each other?
DIANE: I rescued Gracie when no one wanted her from a local animal hospital. She had two broken legs, a ripped-off tail, broken ribs & a cold. They were not sure if she would ever heal, walk again or if she would have complications from being without oxygen during surgery when she died but suddenly came back to life.
Q: Were you planning to adopt a dog?
DIANE: No, but one day out of the blue I said a prayer. After I was done I thought, "Where did that come from? I can't even take care of myself never mind a dog." I pulled the covers over my head and forgot about it. But two days later I got the call that changed my life forever.
Q: How did Gracie become your Service dog?
DIANE: When I brought Gracie home the vet warned me not to leave her alone because she could re-injure herself or chew off her casts. To keep her safe, I trained Gracie to stay in a Snugli attached to my chest. One day I realized she was actually helping me so we researched Service Dog Law & trained Gracie for everything she needed to know. She was eager to please & learn. I haven't been hospitalized overnight because of the way she helps me more safely participate in life. I'm not healed but I'm more able because she does things for me I can't do for myself.
Q: What are Gracie's tasks?
DIANE: I have several health challenges, including a blood disease called Cryoglobulinemia Vasculitis, a rare and life-threatening blood clotting problem & Hypoglycemia. It is worse in the cold so the first line of treatment is staying warm. I realized when Gracie was in the Snugli she was creating life-saving heat that helps keep my blood circulating. An amazing discovery that changed my life forever & has helped others who suffer with these disease think out side the box to find ways to help them too.
Q: Wow, that's amazing! What else does she do for you?
DIANE: Besides enhancing my blood circulation by staying in the Snugli, Gracie can alert me to changes in my internal chemistry and warn me before I even know that I am in danger. When I can't walk because of the joint locking or other MS-like features of this disease she can retrieve items for me. She's a medical alert, retrieval & enhances my blood circulation Service dog.
Q: How does Gracie let you know you're in trouble?
DIANE: Gracie alerts me by first giving me what I call "The Look" that says "Mom, we are in trouble." If she is in the Snugli then she begins to lick me intensely. She will escalate to whining, and if I still do not listen she will bark. I generally get the message quickly and sit down or eat something, whichever the case may be. If we are taking a walk or shopping and she senses trouble she will stop, give me "The Look" and turn toward home, a chair or the car. If I don't listen she will tug my pant leg and pull me. If that doesn't work she will escalate her alert to a determined bark! We have a very intense bond.
Q: Have you met any other Iggie service dogs?
DIANE: No, but I've heard there are a few Italian Greyhound service dogs out there. However, as far as I know we are the only team like us in the world: an Italian Greyhound helping a woman with a rare, incurable blood disease with Hypoglycemia. However, toy breeds can be used as Service dogs, especially for hearing or medical alert dogs.
Q: Why is it so important that people get permission to pet Service dogs?
DIANE: There are lots of reasons, but the most important is that the communication between the dog and the person is interrupted and the dog is distracted from its job. There may be other issues, too. In my case, my immune system is compromised so I have to be careful about exposure to germs and that includes people petting Gracie since her head is right around my mouth area. It's also hard enough to get out of bed and participate in life but when people constantly stop you when you have flu-like aches & pains it makes going out even tougher. I try to have a regular life, just like everyone. I love talking about Gracie, but it can be exhausting to get stopped by everyone who wants to ask about us.
Q: Is Gracie different at home vs. when she's "on duty" in public?
DIANE: Gracie is always sweet, loyal, comforting, attentive, and reliable. When she is enjoying play time she is like any other dog: a rascal and full of fun. But when she is "on duty" she is a completely different dog--all business and focused.
Q: Does Gracie have pals?
DIANE: One of her best friends is Sabrina, the cat. She also has a great time with a couple of teddy bear hamsters. She plays chase with some of the birds that hang out around the house, and tumbles about with her dachshund boyfriends. She finds it irresistible to run like the wind with her Italian Greyhound friends. Big or small she loves them all.
Q:The illustrations are great and the story is wonderful. When will Book 2 be out?
DIANE: We are at the mercy of the illustrators. We hope it will be sooner than later. We get asked that almost everyday in email or when we are on the road at events.
Q: What was it like to film the Mystery Diagnosis TV show and how did they find you?
It was exciting. We are hopeful that the program finally brings important information to Cryo suffers and those who love and take care of them. It's a rare, misunderstand and hard to grasp disease! The process was extensive to get to the actual filming. They did several months of investigating, checking medical records, talking to family and friends and then moving forward through several producer levels until we met the one who filmed our episode. He said our story was one of the saddest, most heart wrenching and emotionally gripping that he'd heard. We had many tearful phone conversations. The day of filming he interviewed me for over five hours in a studio in Tampa, FL. He wanted to include more of Gracie's amazing story but he said that's for another program. He also said that we have enough material for a feature film which he looked forward to seeing one day. They found us from a friend on Facebook who recommended us and the Vasculitis Organization. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and we appreciate everyone who takes the time to care and share so we can help as many people and animals as possible! That's what I live to do be a light in the darkness for those who are suffering in any way!