Dakota The Labradoodle Protects Diabetic High School Swimmer

San Antonio, Texas — A loyal and highly trained Labradoodle is able to warn his owner about high or low blood sugar.

Ben Ownby, a student at San Antonio’s Churchill High School, is a type 1 diabetic, but he is kept safe by Dakota, the five-year-0ld Labradoodle, the local Express-News reports:

“Ownby, a freshman swimmer for Churchill High School, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 17 months old. He must manually inject insulin seven to eight times a day.

“He’s also allergic to adhesives, which prevents him from using automated continuous glucose monitors or insulin pumps that must be attached to the body.

“That’s where Dakota comes in. He can smell on Ownby’s breath or sweat whether his blood-sugar levels are too high or low, even when Ownby is in the pool.”

Dakota, who accompanies Ben to swim team practices, is trained to tug on Ownby’s wrist bracelet when his levels go too high or jump on him if they are too low.

Ben had this to say about his companion: “He’s more like a sibling to me. It seems like he has feelings, too. He’s so much more than just a dog.” Dakota received his training from Guide Dogs of Texas, located in San Antonio.

A Labradoodle is cross between a Labrador Retriever and a standard or miniature poodle.

The Wall Street Journal reports that scientists haven’t as yet figured what service dogs like Dakota are smelling, but whatever it is, it allows them to sense changes in human blood sugar:

“Diabetic, or hypoglycemic, ‘alert dogs’ are a growing class of service dogs best known for guiding the visually impaired, sniffing out drugs and bombs, or providing mobility assistance for people with severe disabilities …

“The dog’s accuracy and speed can beat medical devices, such as glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors, according to doctors, owners and trainers. With their acute sense of smell, the dogs — mostly retrievers — are able to react to a scent that researchers haven’t yet identified.

Watch a WSJ video report on diabetic service dogs:

[Top image credit: Shutterstock]