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

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read