Assistance Dogs Train

July 27, 2020

A slight paw to the leg could be the lifesaving alert people living with type 1 diabetes need.

It’s in the realm of possibility, now that SA charity Australian Lions Hearing Dogs is training canines to sniff out and alert to low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycaemia.

As one of the hundreds of thousands of people in Australia who has type 1 diabetes, Eliza Bartlett said having a medical-assistance dog would be life-changing.

“Having a dog that can wake you up and alert others would be not only lifesaving but also something that would just take [away] that pressure and anxiety of having and living with diabetes,” she said.

“I’ve had times where I haven’t woken up during the night because of being unaware of having a hypo [hypoglycaemia]. I’ve had my family basically finding me in a coma overnight unaware of what my body’s going through.

Ms Bartlett said diabetics could struggle with their mental health, because it was such a life-consuming illness.

“Whether it’s the weather, stress, going out with friends and having a drink, everything changes it,” she said.

“Hormones, you don’t get a break and it’s something that’s really exhausting to live with.”

Cody, a working English Springer Spaniel, will be the first puppy to be trained, alongside Millie, who is learning to be a hearing and diabetes dog.

The Diabetic Alert Dog Project coordinator, Laura Harris, who will also be the dogs’ primary trainer, said the training program would be intense.

Cody and Millie are expected to be placed in families within two years.

“The dogs will be trained using saliva samples from type 1 diabetics when they’re having a low blood glucose event,” Ms Harris said.

“So, they’ll collect the samples and they’ll be stored in tubes and then we can use those tubes in the training of the dogs.”

The Australian Lions Hearing Dogs has been operating for 40 years and has so far homed 600 dogs.

The charity’s chief executive, David Horne, said it would be hand selecting people from the local community for the first few diabetes medical-assistance dogs.

“There’s a great need in the community [and] there is no other organisation that will give out diabetic-alert dogs free of charge,” Mr Horne said.

He said the program had been in the works for several years.

“We’ve got an expansion of our facility, which we’ll be looking to triple our capacity of dogs we can hold here in SA,” he said.

“It’ll give us the capacity to deliver over 100 assistance dogs per year, and in that, we feel that we can expand our range and help more people because as a Lion’s project we serve the community.

“They’re not an electronic aid, they don’t just perform the service that they’re trained to do but they perform so much more. So, it’s companionship, it’s security, it’s independence and this is something we’ve provided for 40 years with our hearing-assistance dogs.”

It’s hoped the program will grow to train dogs to help people with other medical illnesses, like epilepsy and seizures, in the future.

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    June 2, 2021

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    More Recent News