Friday, August 7, 2009


(first pictures of Dixie on August, 7 2005)

Today is Dixie’s “gotcha day.”

What is a “gotcha day” you ask? I didn’t come up with it. I used to work with a little boy who was adopted. Every year, his parents would celebrate the day that they got him. Hence, the term “gotcha day.”

Four years ago today I was in Jud, North Dakota. I had traveled there the previous day and had moved into the little house where I would live for three weeks while I trained. I remember the day I met Dixie. It was hot and humid. I woke early so that I could shower, have breakfast, and check internet before I needed to be at the training facility. (which was about 20 yards away) I was so nervous.

I finally walked over to the office and met the training staff. They had me work with a couple of different dogs. I practiced having the dogs heel while I walked around the room. This went on for about 1/2 hour. Then they brought out Dixie. She was so much smaller than all the other dogs. I asked if she was a puppy, and they told me that she was nearly two years old. The other dogs that I had been with were all around 80-100 pounders. Dixie was much smaller...only around 40 pounds. We walked around the room, with her heeling at my side.

I was sent to an office to sit and watch a short video about dog training principles. The trainer had instructed me to carry my tester with me all the time, and to test if Dixie did anything “unusual.” She stayed next to me on the floor while the t.v. played. About 15 minutes into it, she sat up and started pawing me. I whipped out my tester and rang in at 62. I ran out and told the trainers. They rewarded Dixie, and I got out some fruit snacks to cover the low.

Around noon, they called a lunch break. Dixie was taken back to her kennel, and I went to my “house” for lunch. After lunch, Dixie was brought back out to me, and we practiced heeling through the streets of Jud. I asked the trainer if Dixie was my “primary candidate.” (Before I came, I was told that a dog would be selected for me. That dog would be my primary candidate. They would also have some secondary candidates, in case the primary candidate didn’t work out.) The trainer told me yes. I was excited. Now I knew that Dixie would most likely be mine. We went back to the training facility and they gave me supplies so that I could take Dixie back to the house with me. They gave me dog food, bowls, toys, and treats.

At the end of that first day I was exhausted. Dixie and I crashed on the couch. I took the first pictures of her and emailed them to all my friends. It finally felt real.

That was four years ago. Before that, I struggled with identifying my own lows. I had to rely on friends, family, and colleagues to help me know when I was low. Usually by the time they realized it, I was really low. Numbers in the 20s, 30s, and 40s were common.

Those days are gone.

Dixie knows I am dropping before my numbers get that low. At my endo appointments the last couple years, my doctor is amazed at my numbers. She used to circle numbers in the 20s, 30s, and 40s to track and try to understand. She doesn’t need to do that anymore. I am rarely that low. My A1c’s have dropped into the upper 5 range for the last year. That is without constant lows.

My life is complete with Dixie. She is a gift.

Thank you, Great Plains, for training Dixie and giving her to me.

Thank you, Dixie, for all your hard work. Happy Gotcha Day buddy!!