About the Author
Ben McClelland is Professor and Schillig Chair of English at the University of Mississippi, where he has taught courses in literature and writing for twenty-six years. He holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from Indiana University, where he wrote a dissertation on William Faulkner’s fiction. He also completed post-doctoral study at the University of Pittsburgh in composition and at Carnegie Mellon University in rhetoric.
He developed professional credentials in the area of nonfiction and life narrative writing by conducting research into the history, theory, and current place of nonfiction prose in English studies. In addition to articles and editions, he has written two professional books and a nonfiction memoir, Soldier’s Son, which was published by the University Press of Mississippi in March 2004, as a Willie Morris Book in Memoir and Biography. Since 2004 he has offered undergraduate and graduate courses in nonfiction writing.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Historically man has benefitted from the companionship of the first domesticated animal, the dog, which first teamed with man as scavengers and hunters ultimately to evolve into separate breeds and crosses with diverse capabilities. “Man’s best friend” so accurately describes these beloved canine companions with the amazing ability to serve a range of roles from hunter to assistant, relying on compatibility, intelligence, instinct, and of course, a keen sense of smell. I am confident that the field of canine training and behavioral study has only just begun to tap the vast competencies of dogs.
One such exemplar is the Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD). We refer to the Wildrose DAD as the “Master of Scent.” Training a Wildrose British Labrador as an alert dog certainly qualifies at some level as amazing and even a bit mysterious. How are these animals so accurate that they can actually predict a swing in a diabetic’s blood sugar well before all other indicators? Obvious to us is scenting—“the nose knows!” But are there other more subtle body changes the perceptive dog may identify? Therein lies the mystery.
Wildrose specializes in the British Labradors highly valued for their temperament, moderate size, and natural game-finding abilities. As scent discriminators, they are masters. The selective lineage of these fine dogs has purposefully been developed for over 150 years as game-finders, so their scenting abilities are quite keen and highly refined, perfect candidates for scent discriminators. Thanks to the hard work of the many DAD trainers and volunteers, who intensively train the dogs for service work, these exceptional Labradors are changing the lives of people with Type 1. Moreover, as the stories in this collection demonstrate, DAD team families are dedicated to working with canine service companions to help manage the health care of their diabetics.
I have enjoyed a lifetime of training dogs for companionship, game location, and recovery, as well as outside adventurers, but the DAD training experience has been a most rewarding, yet challenging journey. It is one thing to train a dog to bring back a game bird that would have otherwise been lost. It’s quite another to participate in developing a canine that possesses the ability to save a life—at the very least, enhance a person’s ability to become more independent and enjoy the confidence to lead a normal life. That is the mission of the Wildrose DAD.
Join the journey as you explore the challenges, mysteries, and wonders that unfold in these dramatic stories of Labrador service dogs—trained the Wildrose Way—and their diabetic partners whose lives these unbelievable animals have blessed.