After witnessing Jaxson do something astonishing last month, I sat for hours searching dogs – humans and diabetes on the internet.
Did you know nearly 10 percent of this country’s population suffer from diabetes? #hadnoclue
I, like probably so many others knew very little about diabetes until it entered our home.
Then – out of the blue, on an ordinary afternoon Jaxson’s behavior went from peculiar to bizarre. Quickly. Unbeknownst to us, Lee’s blood sugar levels were dropping and Jax through his keen sense of smell – sensed something was wrong and he wanted us to know.
Now let me get my disclaimer out early – Jaxson is NOT a trained Diabetic Alert Dog.
But what I am about to share with you – blew my mind.
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED –
Late in the afternoon, I came downstairs for something (who knows what) and of course my “posse” of Doods were close behind. Lee was watching the news so I sat down with him for a break from whatever it was that had me upstairs.
Jaxson spends a great deal of time with Lee…
He loves to hang out with him – especially when Lee is outside…
But indoors (when Doodle Mom is home), he’s like a furry “post-it” – stuck to me like adhesive glue.
So for him to pace in front of Lee is rare – especially if I am in the room.
On this particular afternoon he was clearly excited, tail wagged like crazy and he kept trying to jump up on Lee.
I remember we both laughed because no command changed his determination to plant those ginormous front paws on top of Lee’s shoulders.
Persistence prevailed and once he was up there, he began licking Lee’s face like he was a beefy treat. His entire tongue frantically slid across his cheeks, neck, his entire face. I changed my voice and gave a stern command, and he finally jumped down. But in a matter of seconds, he paced, whined and jumped up again (uninvited) and this went on for several minutes – several times.
As a therapy dog, licking is the one act that can unleash many problems and jeopardize your certification – so we do not permit licking – at all.
This is why his behavior was so unusual.
Eventually we were able to redirect him and he laid down. But he laid at Lee’s feet, not mine.
DOGS, HUMANS AND DIABETES –
have been detecting low blood sugar in humans for quite a while now. They generally train for two years:
- first year – basic obedience and socialization skills
- second year – to sense when their human is in trouble and then notify them using the predetermined task they were taught – such as barking, laying down, or placing a paw on their shoulder.
While there are probably a longer list of breeds capable of detecting low blood sugar levels, the preferred breeds to date are –
- Retrievers (Labradors, Golden)
- Mixed sporting dogs (Australian Shepherds)
When a diabetic’s blood sugar begins to drop – the glucose levels change as well. This change produces a particular scent, which in turn raises the “isoprene” levels in your exhaled breath. Diabetic alert dogs are trained to detect that smell and alert their humans.
Is that what happened in my house?
AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY –
Harley and I eventually went upstairs leaving Jaxson asleep at Lee’s feet. I returned about fifteen minutes later to find them both in about the same position.
I made light conversation and announced my decision to start dinner. That’s when Lee told me he wasn’t feeling well, asked for some applesauce and told me he wanted to check his blood sugar.
Sure enough his sugar levels were unusually low.
Out and about earlier that day he somehow “missed” an entire meal. With no lunch for fuel, his numbers were descending.
The light bulb in my head started to shine brightly. #halogenlike
I will never know exactly what Jaxson smelled, but I am convinced it was related to the state of Lee’s health – and Jax wanted us to know.
Our dogs – whether they are diabetic alert dogs, therapy dogs or cherished family pets – are all so incredibly gifted. I doubt we will ever truly know all the magical powers they possess.
The other day, Jax was excited about something and repeated that same crazy behavior with Lee. Immediately I started interrogating Lee about his food consumption. Come to find out it wasn’t Lee Jax was fixated on, but the ball behind him on the couch #whew
ONE MORE THING –
Lee is doing much better. It was an isolated event – one that I pray we never witness again.
I continue to watch Jax closely when the two of them are together – can’t help it, I am simply intrigued in this triangle connection of dogs, humans and diabetes…
So far – nothing new to report. #Doodisonhiswatch
But if something happens, you will be the first to know.
Thanks for reading…
Dogs do speak – but only to those who know how to listen – Orhan Pamuck ❤️