March 21, 2012
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.
Devo is five years old and is with me 24 hours a day. He has been to 14 countries and territories and has completed four cruises including the QE2’s last transatlantic, the QE’s maiden voyage and the QM2 circumnavigation of Australia. He sleeps in my stateroom so he can alert me if my blood sugar drops when I am asleep.
Many staff and guests miss their dogs when on holidays so they love to see a dog on board so he is a very popular passenger. I don’t know if he enjoys cruising that much but he has no choice, he goes where I go. His favourite things to do include sleeping, eating, walkies and sleeping so he does get to do all on board.
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.
The Morning TV Show is very popular with our guests and a great way to find out about what is going on around the ship during your voyage. We have had many famous faces in the hot seat – and now Devo the Wonderdog! Entertainment Director Keith Maynard took a shine to Devo and invited him on to the show, take a look at this clip from YouTube to see how their interview went:
Thank you for sharing your story with our readers Carolyn, we’re sure he’ll have a few more fans here on the blog! We look forward to welcoming you both on board a again soon.