Hi everyone, I was just wondering if any of you have a diabetic alert dog? I have just started looking into them for my 15yr. old daughter, and was just trying to get some real opinions.....the pros and the cons........ I appreciate any advice given. Tina
Wow, that is an interesting question. I didn't know they existed until I saw a post yesterday. Thanks for asking the question for all of us.
There are several websites out there - I have been looking too. There is a lady on this site that just bought one for her Son Camden and I think they are very happy so far. From what I can tell it is a long involved precess that is certainly worth it. I have also read that all trainers and dogs are not created equal - so select very carefully as they are anywhere from 6000 to 12,000 from what I have found.
I've looked into a bunch of different places that have them, and yes, they are not all created equal. and the prices range from almost nothing (your just paying for an application fee) to 20,000. And believe it or not the place I think I'm gonna go with is the $20,000 one. I have spoke to the owner/ breeder of the co. and everything sounds great. BUT thats why I wanted to talk with someone else who has already been down this road so I can hear the "cons". And by the way...the $20,000 is all done through fundraising which they will help you with. Unless of course you have 20k laying around the house :) You don't need All the $ before you get the dog either. Or I should say puppy...they place you with a 3 1/2 to 4 month old puppy....so I guess that right there might be a "con" for someone who doesn't want to deal with the puppy stages. I have the website if anyone is interested in checking it out.....it is amazing to think that dogs can be trained to detect highs & lows even before your meter can.
We did a lot of research, talked to many reputable trainers, and ultimately decided to not go forward for several reasons. Ultimately, we decided a DAD was not appropriate for our family at this time. First, the dog senses a rapid change in blood sugar in addition to lows. As you know, diabetics have the feeling of a low blood sugar even if they are not low when their blood sugar is changing rapidly. So, the dogs respond to low blood sugars and also rapidly changing blood sugars that may not necessarily be low or high. So, the trainer said these dogs respond A LOT. Second, some trainers said these dogs are great at nighttime but a majority of the trainers said the dogs are not very good at alerting blood sugars at night time because the dog is sleeping. One trainer said to not be fooled by information about these dogs alerting at night time. Several trainers said they may only catch about 50% of low nighttime sugars but are much more accurate during the day. It makes sense to me that the dog wouldn't be as accurate at night when sleeping. Third, the dogs are not accurate when there are two diabetics in the house (me and my daughter). We each give off our own scent and the dog would be worn out quickly from confusion. Fourth, two trainers told me they would never give a DAD to a young school aged child. They said these dogs are not family pets, they are therapy dogs and young children who are at school do not know how to handle the dogs properly to get any benefit from the dog. Finally, they are a ton of work, not only for the initial training but also keeping the dog fully trained. Ultimately, we decided to not go forward because although they seem fantastic, our main concern is nighttimes. If they really only work 50% of the time at night, I would rather use a CGM to warn me or continue to set the alarm at night to check blood sugars. Our lives are crazy enough with two people working and two school aged kids that I was not sure we could really keep up with the training demands of a therapy dog. My advice would be to talk with several breeders around the country to find out if a DAD would be good for your family.
Thank you so much for that advice...that's the kind of things I need to hear to help make a decision. My daughter is soon to be 16, she's had T1D since she was 10...I'm her main support at home right now but, I'm worried about when she goes off to college in a couple yrs. I was hoping the dog would help give us both a piece of mind. I appreciate your advice and will definetly look into these things further before rushing into this. Tina