DOGS, HUMANS AND DIABETES

By Wednesday, January 20, 2021 11 No tags Permalink

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…

Dogs, humans and diabetes. There's a special relationship between Jaxson and Lee, perhaps that's why it was so important for him to let us know Lee's blood sugar was dropping.

He loves to hang out with him – especially when Lee is outside…

Dogs, humans and diabetes - ever since Jax showed us Lee's sugar levels were dropping, the relationship has gotten stronger.

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)
  • Poodles
  • Labradoodles

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…

Dogs, humans and diabetes - I find myself watching Jaxson more intently wondering what goes on in his mind, especially when the two of them are together.

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 ❤️

11 Comments
  • Madison
    January 21, 2021

    Our noses are amazing, something humans really can’t even imagine. Without training we know so much about our humans, we read you all perfectly in your motions, emotions, and health. Some of us can let you know about things, some of us just do what we think we should do to help you out. Just a step in one direction or another will send us a strong message about where you are headed. Sounds like Jax is a good indicator for Lee. We would bet his indications for low sugar look very different from the toy behind the couch, but it is something you need to study. Glad he loves Lee so much and wants to help him.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2021

      Hi there Madison, he does love Lee, both Doods do. I really want to work more with Jax now on communication, I think this could be very interesting and rewarding at the same time. He will resume therapy work next month. Since we’ve had this break due to the pandemic, Emma’s buddy Harley has really slowed down a great deal. I think his therapy days are coming to a slow crawl – perhaps once a week now. Take care and give your sisters and your mom a hug from me and the Boys.

  • Cheryl
    January 21, 2021

    So glad Lee is feeling well. Good job Jaxson!
    I always learn so much from your blog, Cathy. Thank you for educating me on so many topics!
    Be safe, be well

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2021

      Awhhhh – thanks Cheryl – I took a bit of a hiatus in 2020 but I feel revived and really excited about writing stories for you. So hang with us, and keep on reading…

  • Ducky's Mom
    January 21, 2021

    Good Job Jaxson!!! Our dogs are amazing, aren’t they?! Ducky seems to know when her Dad’s dementia persona is lurking in the shadows – she starts barking at him furiously, incessantly, and won’t stop until I can get her away from him and settle her down. Getting HIM to settle down is tricky. While Radar was still with us, he had a special connection with Sam and knew instinctively how to settle him down. And that was a blessing for Ducky as well.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2021

      Look at Ducky!!!! How’s he doing these days? It is amazing that Ducky is trying to step into Radar’s paws and help with Sam. Sam is blessed to have both of you in his life. We are trying to get back into the swing of work, trouble is – I haven’t had one day to test drive one of the Boys because I am busy re-entry training for the teams coming back. Hopefully by February they can resume their schedule.

  • Tails Around the Ranch
    January 21, 2021

    Jaxson clearly detected something with your husband’s chemistry. Bravo to your smart pooch for the alert!

  • Jan K
    January 23, 2021

    That is so interesting and intriguing! I have no doubt that dogs and their noses are capable of amazing things.
    We hope that doesn’t happen to Lee again, but that if it does, Jax is close by to let you know! ♥

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2021

      Hello Jan – I don’t wish to see him react like that again because it would/could mean Lee is in serious trouble again. I do want to explore some training that helps him communicate with us since he seems to want to. I’ll keep you posted. Take care…

  • Cathy Armato
    January 24, 2021

    That is amazing, way to go Jax! I had tears in my eyes reading this. I agree that we may never know the extent of what dogs could do for us. It’s great to know that Doodleman Jax has your back! Sharing this for sure.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2021

      Hey there friend – thank you, I found it pretty amazing myself actually. I think I want to pursue this a little further, looking at some tools to help him communicate with us, stay tuned…..

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