A trained diabetic alert dog recently proved that his name Hero is indeed apt, as he saved four-year-old Sadie Brooks’ life. The girl was born with Down’s Syndrome and was later diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Hero’s role is to alert Sadie’s parents if her blood sugar levels undergo drastic changes.
The body emits an odor, which service dogs like Hero can sense. Trainers provide these dogs with scent samples of their owners, making them capable of sensing glucose levels and recognizing danger signs.
When Sadie’s blood sugar levels become low, Hero will offer his left paw to the girl’s parents. If the blood sugar level is high, his right paw will go up. However, what’s startling is that Hero managed to detect the chemical changes in Sadie’s body even though she was more than five miles away.
That day, Sadie was attending her class at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills. She left her dog at home. Sadie’s mom, Michelle, told KUTV News that their furry companion started whining uncontrollably. This was an unusual occurrence since Hero is typically a quiet dog. She then called her daughter’s teacher, who tested Sadie’s blood sugar level.
While the results came out fine, the child’s blood sugar level went down within 30 minutes, just as Hero predicted. Sadie’s teacher, also a diabetic, couldn’t believe what had happened since the dog wasn’t with them.
“I’ll be honest, it kinda blew my mind. How can it be based on smell? It really got me thinking. ‘What is Hero alerting on?'”
In a Facebook post, Michelle clarified that they don’t want to give everyone the impression that all dogs could do the same. The family feels blessed because Hero is already more than enough, even without his capability to give long distance alerts.
“We were nervous to do the story because we didn’t want to give the impression that all dogs alert long distance. They don’t. We didn’t want to appear like we were making crazy claims about our dog’s ability. While we can’t and won’t even try to explain how this happens, we feel blessed. Even without the long distance alerts, he is amazing!”
She has likewise responded to various comments about Hero. When asked if the Labrador would now accompany Sadie to school, she said the dog couldn’t. The school will require Hero to have his own handler, and Sadie isn’t old enough yet to assume the role.
Many diabetics rely on service dogs to aid them in their living. Apart from Hero, there’s Duncan, whose video on Reddit became popular. According to the user, when his friend’s blood glucose levels reach dangerous levels, Duncan will bump that friend with his nose.
What makes Duncan unique is that after the alert, he will immediately bring a juice box to his owner in an attempt to keep his blood sugar levels stable. The Reddit user claimed that this trick already saved his friend once when he reached a nearly paralyzed-like state.
One said that the man could merely invest on a sophisticated glucose monitor to avoid the hassle of training a dog. Many Reddit users retaliated by saying that devices aren’t capable of providing emotional support.
Dogs 4 Diabetics claim that Medical Response dogs can recognize the onset of changes in one’s glucose levels 15-30 minutes before a machine does. Labrador Retrievers, for example, possess more than “200,000,000 sensors that can smell individual elements in parts per trillion, versus current technology’s ability to identify items in parts per million.”
While the organization estimates that $35,000 is spent to breed, raise, and train a diabetes service dog, Dogs 4 Diabetics aims to make their service accessible to those in need. At present, the group only requires a total of $150 for application and materials fee. All training costs are raised by kindhearted donors.
[Image via Sadie’s Hero/Facebook]