Hypo-Alert Dog Helps Girl with DiabetesPublished July 14, 2010
Doctor Dog isn't the only canine caretaker. Joining the ranks is Dr. Shirley; She's in charge of a diabetic patient living in England. According to Hypo-Alert Dogs canines can use their acute sense of smell to alert patients to any subtle body changes thereby preventing potential disaster. Presently, the United Kingdom is at the forefront of the research and training of these canines, and also in providing dogs to appropriate recipients who may benefit. Rebecca Farrar, a United Kingdom resident living in Northampton, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 4-years-old. She had to carry several sugar-level tests with her since she was not aware of changes in her sugar levels. According to Britain's Daily Mail, in order to be on call to help, her mom stopped working, and lived in constant fear of her daughter slipping into a diabetic coma. Enter a yellow Labrador-Golden retriever mix named Shirley, one of the eight United Kingdom hypo-alert dogs, trained to detect hypoglycemia, a dangerous condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are too low. As a world's first, she has been assigned to protect now 6-year-old Rebecca. With the frequent hospital visits, diabetes consumed Rebecca's daily life. But now that Shirley is on the case, Rebecca no longer collapses. Ever watchful during the night, Shirley monitors Rebecca while she is sleeping. She even goes to school with her. Detecting any changes in Rebecca's scent when sugar levels change, she signals Rebecca by sitting in her lap or licking her hand. If her warnings are not heeded, off she goes to find Claire, Rebecca's mom. After learning about these dogs from a newspaper article, Claire said, "I didn't realize how much she would change our lives. Rebecca's not had a single hypo when Shirley's been around and she's never been wrong. She's worth her weight in gold!" Enchanted by her loving canine, Rebecca added, "I can't imagine living without her now. She has saved my life so many times." In the United States, guide dogs for the sight impaired are common, and other service dogs are permitted to accompany their humans, generally without question. So what I cannot understand is the long-standing court battle going on between a family living in Westchester County, New York and the Paideia School 15, a Yonkers School that refuses to allow a glucose-sensitive service dog to accompany one of their students. The school claims that since there is a nurse on duty at all times the dog's assistance is redundant. But what if the human nurse is unavailable? Don't you think the school is "barking" up the wrong tree? Leave a comment and share your opinion. For further information about hypo-alert dogs, click here. Photo via.