Diabetic Service Dogs

Does anyone have experience with Diabetic Service Dogs? I saw a clip about them on the news a few weeks ago, and I am curious about it. They sound good in theory, but I am wondering how accurate they really are? They are able to smell their diabetic owner and alert them if their blood glucose is too high or low before you even experience symptoms of highs or lows. My daughter is five and has T1D. This dog would be an asset to her at school. Even at home, whenever she is tired, I immediately check her blood glucose because I am afraid she is experiencing a low. Sometimes she is, and other times she is just tired. I looked at icandog.org for information on these dogs, they are a $1,500 investment and there is up to a three year waiting list. I would love to hear from someone who has a diabetic service dog, before I send a $40 non refundable application.

Thank you for any response :slight_smile:

Hey,

I’m actually working on training a DAD right now. She’s a six-month old Labrador retriever. There are some really great websites and resources to look at, such as http://www.dogs4diabetics.com/ , http://www.diabeticalertdog.com/ , and http://www.earlyalertcanines.org/ . I am working with a private trainer named Rita Martinez in northern California, who also wrote a book on training your DAD called “Training Your Diabetic Alert Dog” (http://www.amazon.com/Training-Your-Diabetic-Alert-Dog/dp/0988850818).

If you want to see what it’s actually like to have a DAD, though, I would check out https://www.facebook.com/SavingLuke, a facebook page made by the mom of a T1D kid that documents their training and the alerts of their DAD. Really sweet family, and she answers a lot of questions if you have them!

My friend Nicole has one and it’s amazing. The side benefit is that she gets to take her (very well behaved) pooch with her anywhere by law.

A funny story she told me about training: If she had a very low blood sugar, she would keep her socks that she was wearing in a ziplock bag to teach her dog what a low smells like. Can you imagine?

We got a 6 month old pup named Jake from the rescue shelter. When we learned you had to “focus” the dog on a single person, we opted not to do it. At the time, it was more important for us have a family pet that everyone could spoil and cuddle with. With TWO people in the house with T1D, it may have made training even more complicated. I sometimes still regret not doing it. He’s still young enough (1year old now)to train so we may change our mind.

I would love to hear more stories about people who have D.A.D.S! I interviewed Dogs for Diabetics on my old website, when they were just starting out… and they were so wonderful to talk to! At the time they were only serving people in the California area.

@ali_mcd thank you so much for those resources! I didn’t know about the Saving Luke Facebook page I am going to check it out!

I would love to hear more stories too. My daughters sheltie is very smart and only her dog. Does not interact with anyone else in the house.

@Cloverbud,

Does the Sheltie detect her lows???

If you are thinking of getting one, please research the company thoroughly before going with them. There are several out there that have many complaints and lawsuits against them. I will not name any names as I do not have personal experience with these companies but I have friends who have had their share of legal issues and DADS that end up being very expensive pets.
Good Luck!!! And I am not trying to scare you away from getting one by any means. I would love to have one if we could! Allergies are the issue in our house. We have 2 dogs (one is a bichon and my T1 is not allergic) and the other is a mutt and we didn’t find out our T1 was allergic until after she became our family pet. One of our cats can detect his high bgs - she goes berserk when he is high. We give her a treat every time. She can’t detect the lows though.

@kristenlundy,

Thank you so much for that information! So helpful for those who are thinking of getting one!

I had a service dog for 7 years. He certainly detected when my blood sugar was high or low, especially lows. He would nudge my hand several times until I would follow him and then once I followed him he would stand next to the refridgerator knowing that I needed something to eat. Unfortunately we had to lay him to rest about a year ago due to cancer, but he was excellent company while I had him. It’s definantly something to think about.