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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read