A fellow author and friend of mine told me a few years ago about the special dog she owned that could detect the rising and falling glucose levels in her daughter. The dog’s name was Little Bear and he was a very special animal. Ever since she told me about Little Bear, I’d been thinking about him and the amazing things he had done to keep her daughter alive. So much so that I featured a diabetes alert dog in my upcoming book, THE PERFECT DAUGHTER (3/20, Kensington).
Fiona Quinn is a talented and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen novels. I first met her after we published novels under the same Amazon imprint. She shared many of her stories about Little Bear, her miracle service dog. So when I came up with an idea to use a diabetes alert dog in one of my novels, Fiona was the first person I called for advice. She was generous to a fault and very accommodating.
Here’s a few things she taught me about these incredible animals.
These dogs are typically for children with Type 1 diabetes who are insulin dependent. Their blood sugar can range from deadly high to deadly low in a short time, and it is the alert dog’s responsibility to detect a change in the child’s blood sugar before it reaches dangerous levels.
According to Liz Donovan, writing on the American Kennel Club’s website, “. . .researchers at the University of Cambridge believe they’ve cracked the code. In a recently concluded study of eight women with type 1 diabetes, researchers found that a chemical called isoprene is present in elevated levels during hypoglycemic episodes. Although this chemical goes unnoticed by humans, a dog’s sharp nose can pick it up.”
These dogs are rigorously trained to detect changing blood sugars in their person and they are not to be treated as a pet. In fact, Fiona was one of the first people to train dogs to alert for changing blood sugars, which is how Little Bear learned his lifesaving skills.
Most alert dogs wear a vest when in public, carrying the supplies needed to treat their person’s condition. When in vest, they are in service dog mode and there are behaviors (like barking) that they can not do. When not in vest they are treated like a service dog.
.When the dog scents, the dog will shakes its body and makes its tag jingle. If that doesn’t alert someone, the dog will pace up and down, making a lot of noise. Or it will carry a bringsels—a designated item—and bring it to the child’s guardian, signifying to them that the child is experiencing a change in blood sugar. The more aggressive the dog acts, the greater the rate of fluctuation.
The dog always alerts ahead of the meter. Looking at the meter might show a normal glucose reading. What the dog is doing is indicating ahead of the meter that the child’s glucose number is heading toward a dangerous number.
These are a few of the things I learned from talking to Fiona. Sadly, Little Bear passed away this year and will be greatly missed. To check out Fiona’s book page, please check out https://www.amazon.com/Fiona-Quinn/e/B00OTQE926?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1573664736&sr=1-1
In the meanwhile, look for my new novel, THE PERFECT DAUGHTER (Kensington), coming this April.