Last week I covered the first reason why we have a DAD, night alerting and back-up plans for zombies. Today, I will cover my second reason, which for the uninitiated sounds crazy, but once you’ve witnessed it, never ceases to amaze. We call it “remote alerting”

Yesterday here in the U.S. was President’s Day, a school holiday for our kids. I didn’t have the day off, but my wife has the amazing good fortune to be able to work from home. I came home from work at about 4:15 pm, and both of our kids were playing in the backyard. Running around, riding scooters, getting dirty, burning off energy.  I came in the back door, put my stuff down, and found my wife in the kitchen starting to prep dinner. Major was on a place (a mat where we ask them to “down, stay”), and Raven was tethered to my wife doing some training. We started talking about our day.

Normally when I get home, the kids are in the kitchen doing homework, or running around, playing and being loud. So it felt nice to be able to have an uninterupted conversation. We talked for a few minutes, and then Raven whined. She was in the process of a training session, but the whine let us know she wanted to tell us something. My wife disconnected the leash and Raven ran to me, then tore off to get a bringsel. At the exact same moment, Major got up and broke place, ran to us and bowed. We call that “civil disobedience”, when a dog breaks a command to let you know you have an issue to deal with. Our house is setup with the kitchen in the front of the house, and our kids were in the backyard. There is several walls, a laundry room (which had laundry going, you could smell the detergent and fabric softener) a hallway, bathroom and bedroom between us.

I went outside to get the kids. I had Stella wash her hands and then we checked. She was in the low 70’s and dropping. Dinner was a 1/2 hour away, so we treated with some Gatorade and kept an eye on her. That is an excellent example of remote alerting. Lots of household activity going on, smells from dinner, laundry, etc, the kids outside while we are inside. It’s nice to know that on occasion, you can take your eye off them for a couple of minutes and still know you have some protection.

As these dogs become more in-tune with their person, instances f this happening pops up more and more. One of the reasons Major is so amazing is that he has an ability to really focus in on his person. When we are out and about with a group of diabetics, there are constant sources of BS issues. He often times only alerts if it is Stella that has an issue, or if it is a radically out of range BS.

As an example, we were at a DAD conference last winter. I was speaking to the audience (along with another parent) about what day to day life is with these animals. The conference was in the mountains, at about 13,500 feet, in cabins surrounded by pine trees. We were in a huge hall, and Major was at my feet. The room was filled with diabetics and their families and lots of other dogs, and our talk was right after lunch. A few of the kids (Stella included) were in another building doing arts and crafts.

During our talk, a lot of the dogs started to alert. After all this was right after lunch, so the BS of a few goes high from the food before the insulin has a chance to counteract it. But Major just laid at my feet. As a matter of fact, he was so still I was almost embarrassed that he WASN’T alerting. After all, I was talking about how amazing he was.

I’m watching all of this take place, and I’m thinking maybe I should tap Major and wake him up, but I leave him alone. Eventually most of the dogs settle down. And then it happens. Right in front of an audience (Major LOVES to show off) Major stands up, puts his paws on me and alerts. As I was a little busy with the talk I was giving, I asked if someone could go get Stella. They brought her in and she came up to the front. Right there in front of everyone, I was about to put him to the test.

This particular weekend, my wife stayed home with my son (we figured there wouldn’t be much for him to do), so it was just Stella and I. We have never been at such a high elevation, and she was extremely active ALL weekend, so we were struggling a little with her blood sugar levels. It was shortly after lunch so I was expecting her to be high. When we tested her, she was 56. That was a GREAT LOW MAJOR! Just amazing.

He has done this time and time again. Occasionally we have thought he was just being obnoxious, like the one time he alerted while we were in a meeting with the school principal. Stella was in a classroom three hallways over. When we tested she was 60. It’s nice to see that Raven is following suit.

Now with all of this in mind, I caution you about “tall tales”. I have heard stories about alerts from miles and miles away. The child is at school, or grandma’s, or a sleepover and the dog alerts. The parent calls and has someone check and low and behold, the BS is out of range. My thoughts on this are mixed. I think that sometimes, these dogs become alarm clocks. If you eat everyday at 12, and you go high everyday at 12:45, then the dog will alert at 12:45, especially if treats are involved. If the diabetic isn’t there, but the dog get’s hungry (he’s used to getting treats at 12:45), then he may false alert. Occasionally, there could be a different diabetic near by. There could be any number of reasons.

Again, please understand. We check our daughter’s BS often. We check her when she gets up, before every meal, before and after any physical activity, any time she asks for a snack or says she feels crummy, and of course, every time a dog alerts. I’m sure it adds up to 12-15 times daily. As always, WE are responsible for our daughters health, the dogs are not baby sitters. What they are is amazing back up/early warning detection/while you are occasionally distracted/ my kid is over there riding a horse and I can’t reach her, amazing scenting machines that love to swim and fetch and run and snuggle and work and please you and eat. 🙂

Thanks!

Team Blackdogsrule

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2 Comments

  1. Ok, that’s the most amazing, incredible story I’ve ever read! Gave me goosebumps! How do the dogs do that? If it’s a smell they alert to, how in the world can they do that with the type 1 person not “around”? I believe these dogs are truly guardian angels and we have some divine intervention going on here 🙂 Great job Major and Raven, great job!

  2. They do smell it. They are trained to work with the scent, we keep saliva samples from our daughter when she goes low to work with later.

    The dogs sense of smell is phenomenal. Across a yard, across a sable or riding ring, from inside to outside, they can smell it. Simply amazing

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