They are trained from birth, and the training goes for 18-24 months. The dogs actually PICK their companion in the later phase of the training. There is said to be an instant connection between the dog and the ONE that they choose. They call this the "MATCHING". Sometimes there is not a match, because the dog knows who it will work best with.
On November 1st, we are scheduled to go into the prison for the Match. The dogs will be let loose and one of them will come and choose our daughter. That is pretty special. At this time, we will be handing them a ziplock bag of samples of LOWS and HIGH blood sugars. The body gives off pheromones that come out of every pore of the body when the blood sugars are high or low. It is so fascinating how Molly will collect the sample simply by placing a clean gauze pad into her sock on her foot inside her shoe. When she finds the sugar low by testing it, she will put the gauze in a ziplock baggie and place it into the freezer after she labels it. And if HIGH, she will do a separate baggie for that. The dog that actually choses her will be trained for the next 2 and a half months on her specific scent.
January 13th is when boot camp is starting. Molly and I will be staying right there near the prison and going for training sessions all day long for 10 days. They are working dogs, so they learn how to follow Molly's lead. The dog can retrieve her testing kits, open the fridge and get her juice for a low, do her laundry, get the mail, run with her, and most importantly it is going to be on alert 24/7, to make sure our daughter does not go low.
I learned that the dog is never meant to replace blood sugar checking and dosing of insulin. That is a common question I get asked, interestingly enough. It is meant to be an extra layer of protection. In fact, yesterday at our meeting, I learned that these dogs do not alert differently on highs and lows because they still want the person to check for the number so that they know how to dose properly.
Here is something you should know...Anytime you have a low blood sugar below 70, it becomes very dangerous because it kills brain cells. Since she is unable to sense them, this becomes an increasing risk to her health. Our daughter has had a lot of them and over time it can cause seizures. Molly has had several of these seizures. What is really neat is that the dog is trained to sense the sugars before they go below 70 and they alert as it dips below 80 which is a great safe guard of protection. At that point, she is still alert, she is still perfectly able to check her blood sugar (which we now check on 2 devices to make sure that the reading is accurate) and she can command the dog to get her something like juice to treat herself so she does not go too low! If she would be having a seizure, the dog is already trained to turn her on her side so she does not choke and go and get help for her.
I love this video that Retrieving Idependence made. They show you a close up view of their extensive training at the prison.
We are 1/3 of the way to reaching our goal....So exciting and so very grateful! If you would like to help, you still can...You can click on the GoFUNDme link, or you can send a check to...
2632 Lower Cane Creek Rd
Pleasantville, TN 37033