Heat, humidity, and hope found their way to Oxford, MS last weekend where Mike Stewart hosted a Diabetic Alert Dog Workshop at his world-renown Wildrose Kennels. Diabetics and their families gathered there to learn and share information. From the very young to the not quite so young, the common denominator was Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetics live with the knowledge that some night in the future they could drop into a diabetic coma, no one would know, and they could die alone in their sleep. Can a dog prevent this from happening? Can a dog warn a diabetic when his or her blood sugar is dropping into the danger zone or going too high?
The simple answer is yes. The more complex answer is ... this service dog specialty is in its infancy. As a result, properly trained diabetic alert service dogs are rare ... good trainers even more so. And there is no training protocol. The good news is that a plan is in motion to change all that. There are a committed few who will, before year's end, announce the formation of a Foundation whose mission it will be to create the international standard for diabetic alert dogs and train dogs to those standards.
Mike Stewart will conduct another diabetic alert dog workshop at Wildrose in late 2009 or early 2010. See you there!