Luke Hengen’s diabetic alert dog Logan. (Photo courtesy of Luke Hengen)

Luke Hengen’s diabetic alert dog Logan. (Photo courtesy of Luke Hengen)

‘Perfect pairing’: Former B.C. man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

Luke Hengen’s confidence, sense of adventure restored by service dog Logan

When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home.

Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or low. He felt like life was closing in on him and he wasn’t confident going off into nature alone or working in his job as a carpenter.

That changed when the former Victoria man got Logan, a Dog Guides Canada yellow lab who’s trained to alert him when his sugar levels are off.

When Hengen was 20, he was hospitalized after passing out after a lengthy hike. He knew he needed to make a change for his own safety.

“Had that event happened when I was still out in the woods, there’d be no saving grace for myself,” he said. He eventually decided to go the service-dog route and about a year later, he was on a plane to Oakville, Ont. to get Logan.

A month later, the two went on their first nature outing, a deer scouting trip near Mount Arrowsmith. That’s where Hengen saw Logan dive into his service dog responsibilities, but it was also where the two became extensions of one another. Logan’s natural hunting and tracking instincts made it as if their thoughts were picking up where the other’s left off while they ventured through the woods.

“The personality was an exact match for myself,” Hengen said. “That first summer spent with Logan was some of the most fun I think I’ve ever had.”

READ: Popular fishing pier in Sidney on the hook for repairs

The connection is indescribable, Hengen says, and only by seeing the tandem in seamless action can one understand. They’re never far apart, whether that’s on the job site, as Logan’s fetching dropped tools and climbing ladders behind Hengen, or just relaxing after a long day.

“He’s sitting there on the couch snoring just as loud as I am, it’s really a perfect pairing,” he said.

But when Logan senses his owner’s levels are off, he’s on him like a “bad habit,” pestering Hengen and nipping at his heels until he corrects his blood sugar.

“The school trains him to raise a paw and just pat you, but Logan was never really good with that one so he just jumps full on me, springs right for the chest, letting me know ‘you’re dyin’ son.’”

Hengen used to worry about having a low-blood-sugar episode while working several stories up. But having Logan by his side and monitoring his levels, those job site worries that dogged him faded away.

“He was just flying, running across ladders, across joists, he’s a better carpenter than most I see on sites,” he said.

Dog Guides Canada dogs are trained in diabetes alert, seizure response, autism assistance and vision and hearing guidance. The dogs are free to recipients and each one costs $35,000 to train. The donation-run group is fundraising $1.3 million through their annual Pet Valu Walk on May 30.

READ: Exoskeleton enables B.C. stroke survivor to walk nearly 2 km a day

Do you have a story tip? Email: jake.romphf@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

DogsVictoria

Just Posted

teaser
Dynamic drives and pitiful putting helped even the score

Another Ladies’ Night has come and gone. This season is passing by… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Traffic cop humour

He demands to know what sort of device had been used to measure his speed

(L-r) Cody Lee with six-year-old daughter Paisley, and Joshua Burleigh with his seven-year-old son Noah are extremely thankfull to Heffley Creek residents and First Responders for the help they received after their canoe capsized in rapids on the North Thompson River on Sunday, June 13. (Facebook photo)(L-r) Cody Lee with six-year-old daughter Paisley, and Joshua Burleigh with his seven-year-old son Noah are extremely thankfull to Heffley Creek residents and First Responders for the help they received after their canoe capsized in rapids on the North Thompson River on Sunday, June 13. (Facebook photo)
North Thompson River canoe trip almost ends in disaster

‘Only way I managed to get us to shore was the thought of not letting my boy drown’

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read