Sunday, December 22, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

Sassie became Mom’s companion.  It was as if she knew how sad Mom felt with Pop gone.
Sassie began to show a special ability to detect when Mom’s diabetic condition was too high with sugar.  Ruth noticed that only when the blood sugar was high Sassie would jump on Mom.  Sassie had never jumped up on anyone before this time. 

Ruth began to recognize the relationship between Sassie’s behavior and Mom’s need for insulin.   Ruth would monitor Mom’s blood sugar levels and discovered that the sugar level was always dangerously high whenever Sassie jumped on Mom.  When she reported the levels to the doctor he stated, “That level of sugar could send your mom into a diabetic coma.  Sassie is a diabetic alert dog for your mom.” 

When Ruth heard that, she felt that Sassie should come with them whenever her Mom visited the doctor. 

On the recent visit, the doctor announced, “I don’t understand why we cannot get the regulation of her sugar-to-insulin balance under control.  This is a problem that puzzles me.  I would like to see if I can discover what is causing these unpredictable spikes in her sugar levels.  If we have your mom stay at the hospital for a few days, I would be able to closely monitor a daily cycle of her condition.  I feel this way I should be able to get her diabetes condition regulated.” 

Ruth trusted this doctor and said, “okay.”  She had been grateful for a written prescription that the doctor wrote.  It explained how Sassie was Mom’s service dog and how she was needed to help Mom.   

Meanwhile, Ruth did not know that Donald had been sending secret gifts to her Mom, Valerie.  Valerie, Ruth’s mom, was Donald’s birth mother.  Donald had discovered that Valerie was diabetic and that she had a love of chocolate covered cherries.  He wanted her to be sick and suffer. 

I’d like to leave a box of these irresistible treats at the front door for Valerie.  However, I need to be sure they are left whenever I know that Ruth will not be home. Donald thought.

When Valerie would hear the doorbell ring, she would open the door and find the box of irresistible treats on her door step.  Ruth never realized this fact because Valerie would hide the candy box.  Valerie made sure that she only treated herself to an occasional chocolate-covered cherry so that no one would suspect her crime.  Neither Ruth nor the doctor realized that Mom had been guilty of causing the unpredictable spikes in sugar levels. 

The next morning, Ruth’s Mom, Valerie, entered the hospital and began a controlled diabetic diet. 

After that, she had decided to take a nap before lunch.  When her lunch tray was brought into the room, she woke up.  As Valerie lifted the cover on the plate, she found a surprise.  There was a box of chocolate covered cherries on the plate. 

She ate all of them. 

After all, she thought, there is no place to hide them here!  She still felt sleepy, so she decided to take another nap. 

That same day, Ruth had decided to surprise her Mom with a visit from Sassie.  When they entered the room, Sassie became very upset and leaped onto the bed.  “Sassie, what are you doing?” Ruth said in surprise. 

The head nurse had seen a dog enter the hospital room, so she had followed them.  She wanted to tell these visitors that no dogs were allowed in the hospital. 

When she saw the dog jump into the bed, she immediately made a call to the hospital police.  They quickly arrived and began to remove Sassie from the room.  Ruth tried to explain that Sassie was a diabetic alert dog, but in the confusion, no one would listen to her. 

Ruth followed the policeman out of the hospital and continued to try to explain.  The policeman refused to listen.  Frustrated, she sat on a nearby bench, crying.  When she finally got up from the bench, she decided to go to the Riverside Animal Shelter and see if the policeman had brought Sassie there.

When Ruth reached the Riverview Shelter entrance, she saw the policeman talking to Jane.  Sassie was still on leash and sitting politely.  Jane was explaining the role of a diabetic alert dog and how this service dog, Sassie, had been alerting her person that her blood sugar was at a dangerous level. 

After Jane’s explanation, the policeman understood that Sassie was not a problem and then decided to have Jane sign a release for the dog.  With a tip of his cap to Ruth, he gave the leash to Jane and left.

“I am so glad to see you!”  Ruth told Jane.  “No one would listen to me!  I tried to explain that Sassie was a diabetic alert dog, but that policeman just kept pulling her away from me.” 

Jane gave Ruth a hug and said, “Why don’t you call the hospital patient representative?  I believe she can help you resolve this problem.” 

When the rep heard Ruth’s explanation, she asked for more details on this situation. Then she said, “I will go to your mom’s room and have her sugar level checked.  They need to be aware of a possible dangerous situation.  It sounds like your mom may be going into a diabetic coma.  If that is true, your dog’s alert and this phone call may save your mom’s life.”

When Ruth got off the phone, she said to Jane, “How can I ever thank you for your help?”

Jane smiled and replied.  “It is me who needs to be thanking you.   You have continually helped this shelter in so many ways!  When the judge released you from your mandatory service, you decided to continue to volunteer here.  I have respected your wisdom and all the hard work you have freely given to these animals.”   Jane continued, “I have a surprise that I have been working on.  I have spoken to the company that dismissed you.  After they heard about the loss of your father and the hardship and medical problems with your mom, they wanted to give you a medical coverage for you and your family.  Not only that but they have decided to give you a sizeable severance check.   You should be free of money worries for a long time.” 

Ruth hugged Jane, and Ruth started to cry.  Jane handed Ruth a tissue, saying, “Now go!  Head back to the hospital and leave Sassie with me.  Millie is here and brought Goldie with her.  The dogs can play until you return.”


With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, near-final material from this instructive novel by dog trainer Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through  UNDERSTANDING SASSIE  

I coached and edited for Helen through my Write Your Book with Me endeavor.

Connect with all Helen A. Bemis books on Amazon.

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