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Guest Stories

Devo the Dog Travels On Board Queen Mary 2

March 21, 2012


Posted in: Guest Stories, Special Guests

Guest Blog: Carolyn Maxwell

Those of you who have travelled on Queen Mary 2 recently may have seen a rather special guest on board - Devo the dog. Devo and his owner Carolyn have travelled with us several times, most recently on the circumnavigation of Australia. Here’s their story…

Devo is a diabetic alert dog, he alerts me when my blood sugar level is starting to drop so I can do something about it before anyone else needs to!  Sometimes he jumps up on me to alert me but most of the time he gives me a worried look – that can be a bit hard to tell with a whippet as they always look worried but it’s a look I know.

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent, formerly known as juvenile diabetes) for nearly 32 years and have had Devo for four years.  Devo is scent trained so he can pick up the change in my body chemistry when my blood sugar level is starting to drop.  The dogs are placed with their ‘diabetic’ at around 8 weeks of age as it is important for them to pick up the scent and bond with their new owner at a very early age.  The pup has a learner tag on its coat as it then takes around 12 months for them to be able to pass the behaviour exam needed to become an accredited medical assistance dog – that’s why Devo is so well behaved, a LOT of training.

I got Devo through Paws for Diabetics Inc. (PFD) in Australia, a non-profit charity organisation registered through Assistance Dogs International.  PFD receives no government funding, all staff are volunteers and relies on donations and fund-raisers.  You can find out about PFD (and donate) at www.pfd.org.au Similar organisations exist in other countries, do an Internet search for diabetic alert dogs and the country you are interested in and you may be surprised diabetic alert dogs do exist in your country.

  1. Tony Cerda says:

    I LOVE Devo! He has an important job!

  2. John Fazio says:

    I met Devo on QE2, very well behaved and important to his owner.

  3. EDITH says:

    We were also on that last TA of the QE2 and “met” Devo. He had a stuffed squirrel toy he really liked. We werre told there are no squirrels in Australia!

  4. Rob Holloway says:

    Thank you Carolyn Maxwell for sharing your story and bringing the life saving role that Devo plays in your daily lfe.
    Also a special thanl you to Cunard for there acceptance of these dogs in the cabin and on the ship.
    Well done…

  5. Helen Kerr says:

    We had the pleasure of having Carolyn and Devo dine with us every night on the Brittania Restaurant …………… he was just exceptional and not one ounce of bother. It is a credit to Carolyn how well he is trained.

  6. Carolyn Maxwell says:

    Thanks to all for the lovely comments, and as Rob said a HUGE thanks to Cunard for accepting medical assistance dog.

  7. Judith Sayers says:

    Great interview Keith! There was a guide dog on one of our previous trips, it makes such a difference for the owners of assistance dogs, to be able to go to different places, and enjoy a proper holiday, and it does not disrupt life for other passengers.

  8. Pat (Shelton) Astley says:

    What a delight to meet Devo and Carolyn on board recently on QM2 !! They are both very special. Devo must make a huge difference to Carolyn’s managing of her Diabetes 1 . Very best wishes to Cunard & Carnival, the parent company, in allowing Service Dogs to be onboard these cruiseliners. xx

  9. Tom Morgan and Ken Youngert says:

    I remember Devo from the maiden voyage of the Queen Elizabeth. It is nice to see him again–as well as Kieth Maynard, who we met when he was on the Queen Victoria last spring, at just about this time of year.

  10. Beryl Moss says:

    What an amazing dog and I must admit did not realise such dogs existed. We all hear and see the guide dogs but this is truly amazing and thank you Carolyn for sharing your story with us.

  11. Such a wonderful dog and lady.

  12. Edward Clifford says:

    Everyone loves a doggie story, but not all the passengers on Queen Mary 2 were convinced Devo needed to be on board. For instance he is the first “assistance dog” I have ever seen anywhere in the world who DID NOT wear a jacket informing people he was such a canine and urging them not to touch or feed him.
    Word soon got around the reason for Devo being on board was his owner’s diabetes but other passengers who had the same illness were baffled as they managed to stay alive on pills. More than one passenger (all seven at my table for instance) suggested the dog was more of a fashion accessory – rather like owning a designer handbag!
    Devo was a regular in the Britannia Restaurant, and in Kings Court, where more than one passenger saw him lick the floor and you can imagine what else it had licked as dogs do!! This leads to questions about health issues as we were often on red alert in case of Novo Virus. Where, you may ask, did Devo do his toilet? I asked an officer at one of the Senior Officers’ parties and he told me the dog went in the crew stairwell where trays had been placed. I felt sorry for the poor souls who had the task of cleaning up after the dog if this comment was true.
    Devo seemed to enjoy the luxury of his surroundings. In the Royal Court Theatre he preferred the seats to the floor. Unlike many who were seated around him, Devo was one who didn’t give the act a standing ovation.
    The chattering classes on board were far from convinced Devo needed to be present at all, and they were bewildered when they discovered the alleged reason for his passage on this luxury liner. One puzzling thing to me is this…if Devo is really the lifeline of its lady owner and has to be with his mistress for 24/7 how come she managed for four days to be parted from her canine? This happened when Queen Mary 2 left Australian waters and went to Bali. The dog couldn’t leave the continent or it would have had to be put in quarantine when the liner returned to Australia? Devo’s lady appeared to manage fine without him for those days he was not on board. Devo was “a talking point” all around the ship including in the Red Lion pub where he was a “regular”. Nice dog, well behaved, but was his journey really necessary on medical ground? Many, like me, remain unconvinced.

  13. Catherine Bellows says:

    I have to agree. I have many diabetics in my family and am very familiar with this condition. All have managed quite well on insulin shots and pills as prescribed by their doctors. In fact, if taken as prescribed, there should be no need for an alert dog. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a blood sugar alert dog. How in the world was he ever trained for such work?

  14. Vivien Maisey says:

    Does a service dog use the same potty area as pet dogs in QMII kennels? If so, how large is the area ans what does it consist of? If not, what provision is made for service dogs to relieve themselves? I will be traveling on QMII for the first time with my hearing dog this summer. I want to train her to use something as similiar to what she will find on QMII as I can manage.

  15. Genevieve says:

    We have travelled on all Cunard’s Queens but one trip was memorable as we took our dog along – but she was a bit different to most dogs. Take a look: http://lifeincamelot.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/34/

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