Call it a fluff piece, but we thought you needed to meet a few of the amazing pups known as diabetes alert dogs (D.A.D.s). These furry heroes are specially trained to be able to sniff out high and low blood sugar and alert their owners with diabetes. And honestly, they’re way more adorable than your typical continuous glucose monitor. Read on to hear about the life-saving feats of five of these incredible doggos and the kids who love them.
Looking Out for the Whole Family
“We got our diabetes alert dog Sherlock for my oldest daughter, Aiyla, but he’s part of the reason we found out my younger daughter, Inara, also has type 1. We’ve always tested her routinely since she was born — my husband and I also have type 1 diabetes — but one day last March, Sherlock was really insistent about an alert. We checked my blood sugar, my husband’s, and my oldest daughter’s, and we were all fine. Then I realized it had been a while since we’d checked our youngest daughter. Sherlock was insistent, so we poked Inara’s finger and she was 170. He was the reason we caught it when we did.” —Saira G., Orange County, Calif., mom of 6-year-old Aiyla and 4-year-old Inara
On the Night Watch
“My daughter, Shauna, has dawn phenomenon, and in the middle of the night her blood sugar can drop out of nowhere. There have been multiple times we’ve almost lost her overnight. Once, she had a bad low during the night, and the only reason she woke up was because our dog Keta laid on top of her to alert her. Keta had originally been trained as a PTSD service dog before she became a D.A.D., and she must have learned to lay on top of someone in distress from that training.” —Kathleen J., Delaware, mom of 12-year-old Shauna
“My son still can’t necessarily feel his low blood sugars, and diabetes technology can sometimes fail. Our dog Beta alerts us before the tech can tell us what’s going on — having her reassures us that Trace is going to be okay. She even goes to school with Trace, and everyone there has really embraced her. Each time a new school year starts, the school sends out a newsletter to parents explaining that there will be a service dog in the classroom and what that means. Beta’s considered a staff member of the school and even has her picture in the yearbook!” —Jillian B., Grand Rapids, Mich., mom of 9-year-old Trace
Staying Focused During the Fun
“We took our dog Sherlock to Disneyland with us a few years ago, and he alerted while we were on the It’s a Small World ride. It turned out our daughter London was having a weird, fast blood sugar drop, and we ended up having to carry her off the ride because she was so low. Another time, London was swimming in the pool and Sherlock alerted. We immediately tested her and her blood sugar reading was almost 80 — without Sherlock’s alert, we wouldn’t have tested her for another 20 minutes, and we really think he saved her life.” —Adrienne R., Temecula, Calif., mom of 6-year-old London
Off to College!
“We got our dog Asher four years ago knowing that our daughter Abby, who has type 1 diabetes, was going to go off to college one day. She would be living away from home, and we just wanted another layer of protection for her. Asher is trained that if Abby has a low blood sugar in the middle of the night, he hits a button and a voice says, ‘Wake up, Abby!’ This year, they are going to go to college together and will be living in the dorms. The school they’re going to — Drake University in Des Moines — has a bulldog as a mascot, so they have dog beds in a bunch of the buildings on campus. Asher will get to use them too!” —Mickey K., Dubuque, Iowa, mom of 18-year-old Abby
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.