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

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

.
Princeton’s Spotlight wins two provincial awards for excellence

Publisher takes first place for investigative reporting

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

The COVID-19 cases reported over the week of May 30 to June 5. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees second straight week of 17 new COVID-19 cases

Summerland, Keremeos and Princeton all recorded no new cases

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read