I explain time and time again to strangers about how Juniper is a rescue dog. “Rescue dog,” however, has two different meanings in my mind. The first meaning is the obvious one: Juniper was rescued from an unfortunate and unhealthy situation where she was malnourished and mistreated. Someone abandoned her and the Indianapolis Humane Society rescued her. The second meaning takes more explanation.
Juniper was transferred to me by Medical Mutts in November, 2014. It was shortly after her 2nd birthday and shortly before my last semester of high school. She was fully trained to be my diabetes alert dog, but in no way was I fully ready for the impact she would have on my life. As part of her job, Juniper accompanies me everywhere I go. This included high school classes, showchoir events, basketball games, church, out to eat, and in one short month, Juniper will accompany me to college. You name it, Juniper is there. Her nose is at-the-ready to alert me to any dropping blood sugar that I may have. To a person unfamiliar with diabetes this may seem like a simple task for Juniper; but, for me–a person who has lived with diabetes for the past 13 years–it is all the difference in the world.
Before Juniper entered my life I often sat on the sidelines in fear of surprise low blood sugar episodes that could leave me unconscious. I did not rush out to get my license on my 16th birthday, I did not sleep peacefully through the night, and I considered going to community college and living at home despite my original plans move away for school and live on my own. Before Juniper, I felt extremely limited by my disease. I realized that if I did not have the ability to recognize low blood sugars, then I did not have the ability to properly and safely take care of myself without assistance.
Juniper has been that assistance and so much more for me. She allowed me to finish my last season of showchoir without missing a single performance. She allowed me to be a camp counselor and set a good example of a balanced lifestyle for twelve 13-year-old girls with diabetes. She allows me to travel and explore the world freely because I know I can enjoy my surroundings without fearing a trip to an unfamiliar hospital. Most importantly, she allowed me to finish my last semester of high school as Valedictorian of my class of 450+ students and happily and confidently accept admission to a transfer program for the University of Notre Dame where I will be studying Psychology and pursuing longtime dreams of becoming a Child Life Specialist. Juniper is a rescue dog because she rescued me. She has given me safety and security and a whole lot of happiness. Most importantly, she has given me back the freedom to choose what I want to do and who I want to be.
Juniper has been the answer to my every prayer since the day she nosed her way into my life.
Amy Mansfield (and Juniper!)