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Service Dogs for diabetic children

Discussion in 'Other Hot Topics' started by lycaonia, May 23, 2010.

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  1. 22jules

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    We don't have a diabetes alert dog but I can tell you that our dog definitely sensed Erin's high blood sugar before she was dx. Erin had just come home from school and had just finished her snack when she went upstairs to her room to do her homework. Our dog kept getting "in her face" and climbing all over her lap to smell her---something she had never done before to her or her sister.

    We laughed it off at the time that "Annie" was loosing it, but now in retrospect I know she smelled Erin's ridiculously high blood sugar. Erin was dx a day or two later.

    I truly believe that dogs could be trained for this!
     
  2. sarahspins

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    if there is no proven scientific benefit, then why are we allowed to HAVE service dogs according to the Americans with Disabilities Act?

    Dogs can certainly alert to the changes in hormones that occur with highs and lows. They're much much more sensitive to those smells than we are. Most dogs pick up that kind of scent training VERY easily.. it's exactly the same as is done for drug or bomb detecting - surely you aren't arguing that dogs aren't capable of doing those tasks either?

    I have had plenty of lows that the CGM has missed completely. Most of the time I hit something scary low before it even shows a hint of a drop.. I usually don't feel it, either. It's kind of unnerving to test before a meal, and see a 42, when you feel fine and your CGM has been cruising along in the mid 80's for hours. So you retest, thinking surely the meter is wrong.. and get the same #. CGM is not technology that I honestly want to TRUST 100% of the time, because it's just not there yet. I would personally LOVE To have an alert dog, mostly because of what I have heard about how much faster they can pick up on lows. I actually have hopes to turn my newest pup into an alert dog, but it's going to take a while.. I actually expect that the SCENT training will be the easy part, it will be the obedience and public access training that will take some time.

    I don't think that anyone necessarily needs to spend $7-15k to have a well trained service dog either. I would like to think that it can be done for much much less (my own estimate is about $1500 for the training I'll need help with).. my current plan for my puppy is to continue doing the scent training we've been working on (which she has been picking up on really fast), and with the help of a group classes get through basic obedience and her CGC, then start on public access training with private lessons as well as refining her alerts to low, and eventually adding in an alert for ketones too. I expect it to take at least a year to 18 months until she is ready to be called a service dog, but I do think it's possible.
     
  3. danismom79

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    These posts cycle around every month or so (sometimes in clusters). I'm sure you'll find a lot of info that hasn't been mentioned here if you do a search.
     
  4. MHoskins2179

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    D-Dog v. CGM

    It all depends on the person. As with everyone, Your Diabetes May Vary (as Bennet says!).

    The above commenters have correctly noted that personal experiences and knowledge from those who've lived with these service alert dogs is the best evidence of whether they work or not. Those I've talked to on this have tried both and preferred the dogs, or they have both a D-Dog and a CGM and use them equally. Tech isn't perfect, and neither are dogs or people.

    A CGM for many works, but some don't have any luck with them. It's the same rationale why not everyone goes on an insulin pump. Or uses the same ones.

    I have a great black lab who has absolutely ZERO service or alert training, but I am confident myself (maybe I want to believe something...) that my dog can sense my Lows and changes her behavior to alert me. I have seen proof of that. It's the same rationale used in my own observations and experiences that prove to me that God does, indeed exist. Coincidence, faith, or realty? Could be any one of those based on the person who's witnessing and living with it.

    We all decide for ourselves and do what we think is best for our lives, based on knowledge from a larger community and higher power. As long as you are confident in the choice and do your research, then that's what matters - not the scientific evidence that may not be there at this point in time. Good luck, again!
     
  5. frizzyrazzy

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    I strongly disagree with this statement.

    Are we going to sit here, and with a straight face, say that empirical evidence trumps the science?
     
  6. Flutterby

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    a cgms doesn't poop.. nuff for me. ;)

    In all seriousness though, I think an alert dog is great for someone living by themsevles.. or for someone a cgms may not work for..
    But I don't believe they are an answer to all, nor are they the right fit for everone. A dog isn't a machine, its a living thing, each dog is different, so not every dog is going to have super dog sniffing power.\

    If you choose to get a alert dog, just remember, if it doesn't work out for you, you can't just throw it in a drawer and forget about it.

    Just because its approved and protected under the ADA doesn't mean its proven science.. Its obviously shown that these service dogs work, not just alert dogs, but seeing eye dogs, hearing dogs etc.. but thats not 'proven science'. And there is NO PROOF or DATA that shows they are BETTER than a cgms.

    Most important thing, do your research.. while taking into consideration that its a living thing. You need to take care of it, you can't just plug it into a charger.. (wow, thats an image! :D)
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  7. MHoskins2179

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    It's not a Versus message here...

    Again, it all comes down on personal experiences.

    Science and data proves that insulin pumping and CGMs work. However, not everyone uses them because not everyone agrees they work.

    Goes the same with D-Service dogs.

    Regardless of the data that may or may not be out there on any given topic, it so much depends on YOU and YOUR DIABETES (or that of your kid), as it all VARIES significantly. What you find helpful, as a parent of a child with diabetes, may not work for me, as someone who's been a Type 1 since I was five and am now in my 30s, married and managing it in my own life. Of course, what works for one parent may not for another. The above logic, again.

    That is what trumps. Again, research and balancing and personal decision-making dicates - not what a study done on hundreds of other people that may not apply to you. Or the experiences someone else has had.

    That's the point.
     
  8. Sarah Maddie's Mom

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    I don't think that you can really compare the efficacy of a piece of standardized, highly tested and uniformly engineered technology with a living creature. :rolleyes:

    In fact, the thing that really irks me about these threads is that non-dog folks seem to get the idea that they can just rock into a "store" and buy one of these dogs.

    For a dog to be able to alert to changing blood glucose it would require a series of skills and innate abilities that few dogs possess, and even more importantly, training by a professional trainer to bring those innate talents to a predictable and intrepretable set of behaviours. I've done a far amount of research into this and at the moment, there simply is no standard for training these dogs. This is not the case for the training of dogs who guide the blind or aid the disabled.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  9. sarahspins

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    I don't disagree with that at all :) However on the flip side, I don't think it's fair to belittle or disagree with someone who HAS one and finds that it works very well for them.

    I don't live alone... my husband has woken me up to my dexcom alerting several times, but if I am sleeping on the receiver, I don't usually wake from the vibration alone, and neither one of us can hear it - it's not doing anyone any good at that point. Not to say a dog is perfect either, but as we're already dog owners, having a second dog is really not a big deal, and if she does NOT work out as an alert dog, that's fine too. I would hate to commit to a dog with the SOLE idea that they'll be able to alert only to have that not happen, but I didn't do that, so if she ends up just being a pet, that's a-okay with me.
     
  10. frizzyrazzy

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    I'm sorry, but if you cannot see the difference here, then there is no point to trying to have an intelligent conversation on this topic. :)
     
  11. emm142

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    At times I've been as low as 23 by the time the CGM alarms that I'm 76. The CGM does not catch fast lows until they are very low (unless you have predictive alarms). According to some, an alert dog would.

    However, I'm not right now in a position to have a dog with me all the time. I feel like that would draw attention to my diabetes, and a dog is much MORE than a medical device. I wouldn't be able to take it off for a few days when I get fed up of the constant reminders. Not that I could afford an alert dog, anyway..
     
  12. MHoskins2179

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    Thanks, Emma

    For your comment on that - I think it is a valid one to consider. I've had those experiences myself when trial-testing various CGMs, simply because there's a 10 minute or more delay in the CGM tracking and by the time it tells you a number you may be far lower than currently. The CGM seems like a great tool for me, and I'm most likely going there too for the simple cost and availability factors. But if I could afford it, both in cost and time, I'd seriously consider a D-Service Alert Dog based on what others have told me and the personal accounts I've read online about them. Personal choices, though, all worth thinking and talking about. Great discussion!

    On a less serious note, I of course, would want to come up with some fun creative name for my D-Dog.... Like Lance (if a boy), or maybe Minimed as that's the pump I've got! What about Glucagon? "Drop, Glucagon! Drop." Ha!
     
  13. suz

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    Michael, thanks for the much-needed laugh on this thread!
     
  14. Rukio

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    ^^

    I have a corgi and she has definately alerted me to being low in the past since I can only sometimes catch my own highs/lows. Shes not trained to be a D dog but she will in fact, bring me my meter case when I need to do bloodsugar. (If she can reach it xD). I havent tried a CGMS yet, but we'll be trying the guardian soon.
    Jeg I would recommend you look at a as many as possible, see if you can talk to a few of their customers (the praising and the hating) og compare notes with other people. Then calculate if you have the time, energy, and money to take care of a dog, og whether or not you and your kid would be dedicated enough to take care of such a dog. I believe there are two sides of the story, and personally I think the only D dog dislikers are people who have never had them, based on what I see written here.
    Its really up to you, and you need to make sure your kids are willing to accept the dog is not persay a "pet" but a medical helper when the vest is on.
    I can make that simple if anyone needs me to. ^^
     
  15. denise3099

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    I'm not one to stir the pot--I tend to just ignore threads that get contentious. But I would like to point out that there is a distinct difference between something not being scientifically proven and something being DISproven. If it hasn't been proven YET, that might just mean that the thing in question is too new to have been tried by the scientific method or that the data is not yet avaialbe, or more likely that the money hasn't been invested in that area yet.

    Being scientifically DISproven is another thing altogether--if it's proven not to work then IT DOESN'T. In the case of alert dogs, the scientific backing isn't there YET. That doesn't mean it doesn't work. It just means you have to do your own research. Which is what most ppl are saying. That training is not yet standardized does not mean there aren't some great reputable trainers out there. It just means there may be some crummy ones too.

    At this point, in the absense of evidence all we have to go on is personal experience. Which is a lot, I think. I would be much more willing to believe actual users who know what their dog can do, than somebody trying to sell you something, like a dog or a training service. Start your research with actuall ppl who have DADs.
     
  16. Flutterby

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    I'm not belittling or disagreeing with anyone.. I'm simply stating its not magic, its a heck of lot of ONGOING work.. you just don't go to a pet shop and pick up an alert dog.. there are a ton of scams out there, people getting 10K 'alert' dogs that do nothing.. Once a alert dog is 'home' more work needs to be done..

    I'm not against alert dogs in anyway.. it just seems that anytime one of these threads comes up, cgm's are bashed and considered unreliable.. For some people they probably are, but for the majority, they aren't. For some people, an alert dog will solve the problems and work wonderfully, for most people, it won't...
     
  17. danismom79

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    May I ask how you managed to get an untrained dog to do that?
     
  18. MHoskins2179

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    You have a very good point about them being much ongoing work. But the poster originally asked a very simple question, and the several comments following that engaged some active and very productive discussion to generate thought and more discussion. It was not until a post about "family dog v. CGM" that stirred the forum pot, and no one was "bashing" CGMS - simply pointing out what many have said. In reviewing each, I don't see that anyone referred to them as being easy purchases as if you could just walk into a pet store and get one. Not at all. There wasn't even an inference, until that was stated that way on a presumption of someone who may have observed that in other threads in the past.

    What's good for the majority isn't good for everyone, and someone's questions and thread topics should not, in my opinion, be dismissed or belittled simply because "a majority" doesn't opt to use a D-Dog rather than a CGM. I don't use either, and would likely opt for a CGM because of the correct analysis that you just don't "walk into a store" or "purchase a D-Dog with the same ease as a CGM can be purchased (for some, not all).

    For the original poster: as most have said, it's up to you and what works best. Research is key and those experiences of those who have these dogs must be balanced with everything else. Anyhow, good luck!
     
  19. Rukio

    Rukio Banned

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    She does it on her own. My family and I figure its from her being from a rather smart breed (ranked 11, if memory serves) and watching me do bloodsugar when I dont feel good.


    Technically I did teach her a little bit, I originally packed an old meter case with dog treats and she discovered she'd have to bring it to me to get a treat. Then I slowly let that fade because she would go to the other room and destroyed a case at one point. (when she was 4 months).
     
  20. Sarah Maddie's Mom

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    It is very helpful if you note to whom you are speaking. ;)
     
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