Although the formal training and use of guide dogs for the blind has been common since the First World War, it has only been in the last twenty years that dogs have been trained extensively to help people with other disabilities. The American with Disabilities Act assured that service dogs could accompany their humans in public places.
One way they are being used is as diabetic alert dogs.
Twelve-year-old Jacob Haug of Washington was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes eight years ago. There is as yet no cure for the disease but now he can live a more independent life because of Shasta, a four-month-old black Lab.
Shasta is Jacob’s constant companion. She is being trained to monitor his blood sugar level by smelling his breath. If his blood sugar suddenly gets too high she will paw him to let him know. If it gets too low she will nudge him with her nose.
Diabetics often don’t feel fluctuations in blood sugar levels and the dog alert can be life-saving.
Dogs can smell a tablespoon of sugar in an Olympic-size swimming pool. Humans, some anyway, can smell a tablespoon of sugar in a glass of ice tea.
For Jacob it means that he can have more independence and play sports like a normal active twelve-year-old. The story