By Langley Cornwell
What do trained service dogs do when they’re a bit too fun loving to be a guide dog for the blind? Some go back to school to become diabetic alert dogs.
Hypoglycemic unawareness is common among type 1 diabetics; many people with diabetes don’t realize they are experiencing a rapid drop in blood sugar until it’s too late. Unchecked, this severe drop in blood sugar can result in confusion, dizziness, sharp stomach pains or even blackouts and seizures. These unfortunate responses can make a diabetic feel confined, restricted and unable to enjoy a ‘regular’ lifestyle. A specially trained service dog empowers insulin-dependent diabetics to reclaim their independence and triumph over the disease.
Dogs for Diabetics
Dogs4Diabetics (D4D) is a non-profit organization committed to offering medical alert dogs to diabetics. These dogs are trained to identify the subtle scent shifts in body chemistry that accompany the onset of low blood glucose in their insulin-dependent human companions.
Former scientist and part-time guide-dog trainer Mark Ruefenacht started D4D in October 2004, reports Healthline.com. A diabetic himself, Ruefenacht forgot to check his blood sugar one evening and fell asleep. During the night—as he was experiencing a low blood sugar induced seizure—he was awakened by one of the puppies he was training. Sick and confused, it took Ruefenacht a few minutes to get his bearings. The dog instinctively knew something was wrong and insistently badgered Ruefenacht until he got up and ate some sugary food.