8607983099_d1d2cb8634_bWe have 2 amazing diabetic alert dogs. They are amazing because they have been trained to pick up the scent of a diabetic that is having a low or high BG event. They are amazing because they can do that from across a house. They are amazing because they can do that when the diabetic is outside and they are inside. They are amazing because they can do that from across a horse arena. They are amazing because they can do that at the mall, in front of Cinnabun, across from the popcorn store, and next to the place grilling steaks. They are amazing because they can do that at 2am, and wake you up to tell you about it.

And then sometimes, they miss a high while the type 1 is laying on them.

THEY DO NOT ALERT TO 100% OF ALL BG ISSUES 100% OF THE TIME. They aren’t robots. They occasionally miss. For all kinds of reasons. And if someone tells you different, whether it’s a trainer, a breeder, or the family you follow on Facebook, well don’t believe it. Here is something to think about: Ty Cobb batted .366. Ted Williams batting average was .344. Babe Ruth’s? .342. These guys are considered some of the best EVER. And they only got a hit 3 out of 10 times. Hall of Fame.

Terry Bradshaw’s pass completion percentage was 51.9. About half. Joe Montana’s was 63.2. Roger Staubach completed 57 percent of the passes he threw. Again, these guys could arguably be the best that ever played.

So when it comes to our dogs, we should understand that they are going to miss a few. Sometimes they are tired or stressed. New situations, changes in routines, a new stressor that we haven’t trained for. Could be a lack of follow through by the handlers, getting lax with the obedience work. They could be sick. There could be an issue with the reward system not being strong enough or consistent enough. Maybe the dog has been alerting to the type 1 child, but the child ignores it or is annoyed by it. Maybe the AC in the house is blowing the scent around, or the airflow in the house is wrong/poor.

There is a tremendous amount of reasons as to why the dog occasionally misses some. But know this: They all miss occasionally. Don’t beat yourself up, or even worse, your dog. Just know that there is room for improvement, and that even the best teams are always working on weaknesses. The work and training are constant.

The internet is a funny place. We all love to share our successes, but we don’t talk about the failures. That’s completely understandable. But while your reading through posts about how amazing a dog is while yours just missed your child’s 350 that you think YOU can smell, you tend to get a little down. You start to compare. You wish you had that dog, or think that family is really lucky. But what you will generally find, and the good teams know this already, is that the harder you work, the luckier you will get. No magic pill. No secret training that you aren’t hip to. Do the work. Reap the rewards.

We work with our dogs constantly. We do something with them daily. They live a structured existence, with lots of place work, crate time, obedience training, daily exercise, and structured play/fetch/retrieve games. And they are better than they were a year ago. 6 months ago. But we are constantly tweaking the program. The dogs aren’t used to both kids being home all day, every day. It’s summer time. And this is the first time we kept Dash out of daycare, so both kids are here. A new scenario. They used to be able to hang out with mom from 9-2, with the occasional scent game, resting with no type 1 in the house. Now the type 1 is here all the time. And she is running high a lot because it’s too hot to go run around outside all day. So we are missing the occasional high. Could be because some days they are constant. Could be because they were used to sleeping from 9-noon, and not focused. Either way, my wife and I continue to work them. Continue to throw new stimulus at them. Continue to fine tune our day. We are tightening up an already controlled situation. Sometimes this means being leashed in the house. In this heat, we sometimes are forced to do more inside work, but that’s what we need to do.

And we also know that occasionally, they are still going to miss some. Just like occasionally, Stella is going to be 400 or 40, and we can’t explain it. But we work really hard and diligently to make those the exceptions, not the norm.

Team Blackdogsrule

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  1. Johanna DeGidio Reynolds

    Amen to that! Thanks for sharing what it’s really like to live with a DAD…let alone TWO of them!

  2. Excellent post-thank you for writing and sharing this. There are so many people out there who think the DADs are 24/7, never need sleep and are on constant auto pilot.

  3. Great story.

  4. Pingback: Things You May Not Hear From Your DAD Organization | Black Dogs Rule

  5. We too have a wonderful DAD that we have accepted into our lives … A lot of work but oh so worth it ! They are not perfect but Rowdy is perfect for us … Thx for the honesty …

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