Monday, February 04, 2008

Diabetic service dogs: a niche worth filling

Earlier this afternoon, I received an email with a news article about some research being conducted at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university researchers are gathering scientific data to see whether dogs can be used to detect dangerous blood sugar levels in diabetics. The article noted that there were only anecdotal reports reporting that dogs can detect this.

Spurred by this idea, which had never previously occurred to me, I did a little web research to investigate.

Did you know that there are already organizations placing dogs with Type I diabetics to detect hypoglycemia.?

The first one I found was
Dogs for Diabetics,
A California non-profit that places diabetic service dogs with people who have only Type I diabetes. The organization, originally called The Armstrong Project, has been in existence for almost seven years. Armstrong was the name of the first dog the service trained for this specialized task. Armstrong was obtained from

Guide Dogs for the Blind

(GDB), a long-established guide dog school in San Rafael, California. Today, most of their dogs are primarily obtained from GDB, with a couple of other agencies contributing as well.

From their web site, here’s what Dogs for Diabetics offers:
• Training and certifying dogs for hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) medical alert.
• Studying and developing training protocols for the Dogs4Diabetics program.
• Training diabetic youth and adults for the proper use and care of our dogs.
• Qualifying diabetic youth and adults for placement and service of our dogs.
• Placement follow-up services.
• Educating the businesses, organizations, and the public to the uses and rights of certified Dogs for Diabetics medical alert dogs.

Additionally, I also found
Heaven Scent Paws,
another agency specifically offering service dogs for diabetics.

If you want to understand what motivates somebody to start a service like this, check out
The story behind Heaven Scent Paws.
It is a parent’s tale of true passion, motivated by fear and love, looking for direction and answers in a world where very few existed.

Finally, there is this story of one teacher’s pairing with her diabetic assistance dog, obtained through the
Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation,
Located in Jud, North Dakota.

The number of these particular service dogs across the U.S. is low in comparison to other types of trained service dogs, according to the executive director of the Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation in that article. However , he predicts that number will rise as word of this invaluable service gets around.

I feel certain that it will.

4 comments:

Shawn said...

As a diabetic, I wish this were more widespread. None of the organizations I've researched have been able to provide dogs for people out of their local area. As another AT geek, this is one low-tech item I'd just love to have!

Anonymous said...

I know of a diabetic alert dog service that is now located in the mid-west. I think their name is Alert Service Dogs, or something like that. She trained a dog for a friend of mine and they are sooo happy!! think the trainers name is Julie Noise (Noyes?). Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

I know of a diabetic alert dog service that is now located in the mid-west. I think their name is Alert Service Dogs, or something like that. She trained a dog for a friend of mine and they are sooo happy!! think the trainers name is Julie Noise (Noyes?). Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Haing been involved with Julie Noyes to help with training our service dog. Julie maybe good at what she does but did not stick to her agreement and took us for $1000.00. She never returns phone calls or emails. I'm sure she hopes that the problem will go away. She has been involved with Denver area efforts. Hope she returns a call soon!!