We probably have all seen or at least heard stories about service dogs at one time or another. These highly trained and devoted canines give up their “normal” doggy lives to help those with specific conditions.
Service dogs have been used for years to help those that are blind or hearing impaired, but doctors are now realizing that using these specialized dogs can be of benefit to those suffering from illnesses like Type 1 Diabetes. Four year-old Sadie is one such recipient.
This darling little girl not only suffers from Type 1 Diabetes, but she was also born with Down's Syndrome. For her parents, this means they have to be vigilant in monitoring Sadie's sugar levels; a spike or sudden decrease can spell trouble for this small girl.
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Luckily, Sadie and her family have a guardian angel in the form of a Labrador Retriever aptly named, Hero. This dog is one of the many canines that have been trained to detect when a person's blood sugars are not within the normal parameters.
Hero does this by using his paw and nose. Sadie's mom, Michelle, will hold out her hands to the dog and ask, “what is it?” Hero will then paw her left hand for a low sugar rating and nose her right hand for a high reading. This in itself is remarkable, but hold onto your seat as it gets even better…
Sadie's blood sugar was checked and off she went to school, leaving Hero at home to relax. Soon after her departure, Hero began to frantically whine and would not stop; this was not a normal behavior for the usually quiet canine. It was becoming increasingly clear to Michelle that Hero was trying to alert her to Sadie's sugar levels.
But the school was five miles away!
No one knows for sure how Hero was able to detect this decrease from such a distance, but we do know that a dog's sense of smell is a thousand times more sensitive than humans. In fact, they have more than 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose, while we only have about 5 million.
Think your dog is a sniffing-expert? Check out the 5 top breeds on the keen-sniffer-scale:
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Basset Hound
Dogs are amazing in so many ways, yet we are still learning just how far their talents extend. If you or someone in your family may benefit from a service dog, begin with checking out the United States Dog Registry for more information. Who knows? One of these amazing and dedicated canines may just save you or a loved one's life.