If I hear someone say “we are getting a DAD (diabetic alert dog) so we can sleep at night” one more time, I do believe my crime will start with “justifiable”. I am asked often if we sleep better at night because we have Raven, an amazing night alerting dog. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen families in the process of getting a dog believe that they will sleep through the night. In some instances, they were told that is the case by the organization they are getting their dog from.
Now hear this: If your DAD is a good night alerter (and there is no guarantee your DAD will EVER alert at night consistently or accurately), you will wake up more than you ever have. And if your dad is not a good night alerter, well, you’ll still be getting up. Either way, you are getting up.
I can’t believe that there are people that put the trust of their child’s life in the paws of a dog. Especially people that should know just how inaccurate even our electronic devices are. CGM’s that are 20 minutes behind or often way out of whack with reality. Meters that have a 10-20% allowable inaccuracy rate. And now a dog, a living breathing being, that can have good days and bad days just like us. That can be exhausted, just like us. That can be keyed into a cat or a squirrel lurking around the window outside, or can get a whiff of the bbq next door, or can decide that you haven’t been rewarding them fast enough, or consistently enough, or with enough value to make them want to get out of bed. These dogs are not infallible. They make mistakes. Or they sometimes miss. Just like we sleep through alarms or forget to recheck.
And what do you think happens when the dog DOES catch a good sugar event? Do you think the dog goes and gets a juice box and gives it to the sleeping child? Or does the dog bolus for a high? And how many nights do you think there will be an event? Yes, you are right. Almost EVERY single night.
And what if the dog DOES get the scent and tries to alert. But you or your child happen to be a heavy sleeper. Eventually the dog will give up. And if you don’t reward the behavior the behavior will stop. Perhaps you have made it so difficult for your dog to alert or wake you up that it is near impossible. Like sleeping in the child’s room and having to come down the hall to another room to wake someone else up. What if you wanted privacy that night and you closed your door? Or suppose the place where the dog sleeps is so comfortable that they don’t want to get up?
To the organizations that tell their clients they can sleep through the night, you are heading towards a law suit. Heading down a VERY dangerous path. Passing on erroneous information as a way of preying on desperate parents. You don’t need to lie to sell these dogs Just train them properly and they will sell themselves. Or let us call you out on your misleading bullshit. Chances are I have more followers than you anyway…
In a nutshell, please don’t believe for an instant that a DAD allows you to sleep through the night and turn off your alarms. They don’t. These animals aren’t for lazy families as way to reduce your responsibilities. These dogs will require you to work harder than you ever have before, or else you will end up with a very expensive pet. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.
We have a great night alerter. And STILL the alarm goes off at midnight, 3, and 5:15 am. And that is on a non eventful night. Why? Because the alternative is to scary to think about.
Always remember: These dogs are not a first line of defense. That is YOUR job. These dogs are redundant back up systems. They are there for the nights when you DO forget to set your alarm, or sleep through a low correction. That is why we have them. Another tool that lets us do our job better.