A Labrador named Hero lived up to his name by saving his owner’s life when he was over 5 miles away. Sadie Brooks, a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome and type 1 diabetes, was at her special needs school in December 2015 when Hero signaled her mother that Sadie’s blood sugar levels were dangerously low. A prompt call to the school confirmed Hero’s warning and saved Sadie from possible coma or death.Hero is a diabetes alert dog that uses scent to detect blood sugar levels.
When Sadie’s blood sugar is abnormal, he whines to let her parents know, and then he paws or noses a left hand if her blood count is low or a right hand if it is high. His trainer, K.C. Owens, says a Labrador’s sense of smell may extend for 1 to 2 miles, but to correctly diagnose Sadie’s condition from 5 miles away is truly extraordinary and defies analysis. The principal at Sadie’s school, Caroline Knadler, who also has type 1 diabetes, is familiar with Hero’s abilities. At a parent/teacher conference, Hero warned Sadie’s parents that the principal’s blood sugar levels were falling.
Diabetes alert dogs are trained to use their keen olfactory abilities to detect changes in blood chemistry when blood sugar levels go up or down. They can usually alert people with diabetes or their caregivers 15 to 30 minutes before the onset of symptoms. Some diabetes service dogs not only retrieve medications or cell phones, but they also use a special device to call 911. Service dogs are especially useful for people who often experience drops in blood sugar levels and children who need frequent testing.
Although Hero’s detection of Sadie’s blood sugar level from 5 miles away was an extraordinary event, he continues to save her life every day by notifying her parents of her changing blood sugar levels. Rescue and alert dogs perform many duties. Read this article to find out how a veteran rescues shelter dogs and trains them to assist other veterans who have physical disabilities or PTSD.
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