Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hedgehogs are on the Job! Keeping your favorite PWD safe from harm!

Heggo definitely likes this PWD!
Today is day 3 of the fourth annual Diabetes Blog Week,  since I've only been blogging about diabetes for a very short while, I just don't think today's topic, "Memories" is a good fit.  I tossed around some ideas.  I considered writing about Eleanor's diagnosis day, but I'm not ready to do that, just yet.  It's still simmering.  I also considered writing about Michael's diagnosis day, which was 14 years ago.  That certainly qualifies as a memory, but in some ways it's too distant.  It has the opposite problem.  Also, it's not really MY story.  So I'm going with one of the wildcard topics.  Specifically, the Diabetes Wild Kingdom Wildcard.

Here's the prompt: What is the ideal diabetes service animal? Think beyond the obvious and be creative in explaining why your choice is a good one. For example, maybe a seal would make a good service animal - it flaps its flippers and barks every time you get a good blood sugar reading!

Well… naturally a hedgehog would be the ideal diabetes service animal! Isn't that completely obvious?
Our Heggo, looking quite a bit like a sea urchin
When we first adopted our hedgehog, Heggo, and she spent all her time curled in a ball, I thought, "She looks like a sea urchin!"  Only later did I learn that "urchin" is an old world name for "Hedgehog," and that, indeed, sea urchins were named such precisely because they resembled the prickly land animal.  For some reason folks stopped calling hedgehogs "urchins," but they never started calling sea urchins sea hedgehogs.  or seahogs either.  

But why would they make ideal diabetes service animals?  Well, their prickly quills for one thing! Built in traveling lancing devices!  Hedgies will even pop abruptly if you startle them, so that's quite a lot like a little spring loaded lancing device, isn't it?

Additionally, they have a keen sense of smell.  In fact, they bond with particular humans based on sensitivity to feeling safe and at ease when they're around a particular person.  If the PWD spend time with the service hedgehog, he'll be ready to sniff out that glucose level anytime.  Even better, hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they'll be likely to be wide awake and alert when a PWD needs them most.  They can sleep peacefully knowing the hedgehog will be on alertful watch.  If the hedgehog sniffs out an out of range blood glucose, she can tickle the PWD awake with her little whiskers, poke a finger with a quill and get the information everyone needs, so treatment or correction can commence.

Finally, hedgehogs, unlike dogs and cats, are very unlikely to produce allergens that will effect humans.  A hedgehog allergy is very rare, so the typical deterrents to getting a service animal just aren't there!

Awww, could you eat that cute face?
I don't think there's any competition.  Hedgehogs are so obviously suited to this job.  Someone needs to open a training facility right away.

Only one problem.  The hedgehog may be great for ongoing service to my daughter and husband… if it lives that long… I've read that hedgehog meat is rumored to cure rheumatism and arthritis.  Hmm… I think I'm craving a hedgehog sandwich.

No, I couldn't eat our Heggo.

Besides, Reid would never let me!

And neither would Kenneth!


  1. Oh my goodness, I've never known anyone who has an actual hedgehog!! It's so cute, and thanks to you educating me with this post I have to agree, they are the perfect diabetes service animal!


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