Alma, Michigan, December 19, 2016 (Newswire.com) – On December 19, Robert, a 36 year-old physician with Type 1 Diabetes of Alma, Michigan, will be welcoming a four-legged assistant named “Zoey”, that is a Diabetic Alert Dog from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers.
Robert’s dog, a Labrador Retriever, will help the doctor manage his blood glucose and she will accompany him everywhere—from the hospital to his office and even get a bit of rock climbing, skiing, and running exercise—the doctor’s favorite outdoor activities. Zoey has already received thousands of hours of training as a diabetic alert dog and she will continue to learn under the careful guidance of a certified trainer from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, “SDWR”, and through the rapport she develops Robert. SDWR has a mission to provide specially-bred and trained dogs for adults and children with invisible disabilities like Autism, PTSD, Seizure Disorders, and Diabetes.
As a physician, Robert works very demanding hours and managing his diabetes is a challenge. However, Zoey will have just one task and that is to make make a significant and positive difference in his life. An active person can often experience high and low blood glucose level swings. Those swings are not only life-threatening, they also impact the long-term overall health conditions of a person diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Zoey will help Robert to be able to avoid some of these swings by alerting before they get extreme or even life-threatening.
A three-year study of SDWR Diabetic Alert Dogs funded by the National Institute of Health found that the diabetic alert dogs were able to scent to high and low blood glucose changes often up to 20 to 30 minutes before a blood glucose monitor. This extra time will make an important difference in the safety, security, and long-term health of Robert. At a recent SDWR Family Reunion in Washington, D.C., Robert witnessed the alert before the glucose monitor firsthand. An SDWR trained diabetic alert dog serving a different person alerted Robert that his blood glucose was low. Though Robert’s glucose monitor indicated he was in normal range, when Robert tested his blood, he found his glucose level was actually 20 points below what his monitor had indicated. After this experience, Robert was a true “believer” and has anxiously been awaiting the delivery of his alert dog ever since.
Dan Warren, Founder and President of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, indicates that the Organization’s diabetes alert dogs are trained to recognize and alert on the scent of low and or high blood glucose levels. “When Robert’s blood sugar begins to fluctuate, Zoey will pick up the scent and give the alert for ‘high’ or ‘low’ blood glucose levels to Zoey.” In that same study which was conducted by the University of Virginia it was concluded that SDWR service dogs are 93% accurate in their alerts.
Often diabetics don’t feel their blood sugar fluctuation and their bodies are slow to react to how their insulin pumps have been programmed. These events can lead to dangerous lows, which can result in seizures, coma, and even death. Implanted glucose monitoring systems (“CGM”) are often 20 minutes behind an alert dog’s sense of the glucose movement (from April 2013 study by University of Virginia utilizing Warren Retrievers’ service dogs). Electronic systems measure parts per million while alert dogs have been shown to scent parts per trillion.
People may also sleep right through a glucose monitor’s alarm, whereas a trained diabetes alert dog is taught to be persistent to the point where it will go get another member of the household if the dog’s “person” does not respond. Additionally, these amazing dogs are trained to retrieve essentials needed such as Glucose tablets, Glucagon, insulin, juice boxes, testing meters or retrieve medication from a designated spot in the house. Alert dogs are further trained to dial out on K-9 equipped phones to summon emergency medical help, if needed.
Zoey will also work with the SDWR trainers and Robert towards public access certification. Dan Warren is quick to point out that, “all the incredible services these dogs can provide are through progression, hard work and dedication of the Organization and the family who must work together to build on training foundations and fundamentals. This is about an 18-month training program.”
What sets SDWR apart from other service dog organizations are the customized training methods and SDWR matches dogs to their “person”. According to Dan Warren, “that important bonding time between dog and person can begin to happen right away. For the over seven years we’ve been utilizing this method of dog placement, we’ve achieved amazing results. To date we have over 500 dogs working across the country and around the globe.”
Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers is a non-profit organization based in Madison, Virginia, and relies on donations to help the Organization in its mission, “Until there’s a cure…there’s a dog.” To make or donation or learn more about SDWR, please visit the website, http://www.sdwr.org/. To learn more about Diabetic Alert Service Dogs visit http://www.sdwr.org/service-dogs/diabetic-alert/. To find out how you can volunteer or serve as a puppy raiser visit http://www.sdwr.org/volunteer-opportunities/.