A year ago, I drove a puppy named Jasper to his new home and his new family. He was 10 weeks old. Unbeknownst to him, he was about to embark on an incredible journey.
Home is a happy place for Jasper. He lives out in the country, gets to romp and play, and has a family who loves him. He also has a job. He is a diabetic alert dog. Roxanne and her husband, Matt, wanted a diabetic alert dog for their son, 6-year-old Dylan, a Type 1 Diabetic.
Jasper soon learned there was more than one T1 Diabetic in his new home. Although his primary job is to alert on Dylan's fluctuating blood sugar levels, he also alerts on Roxanne's. For Jasper, a low is a low, a high is a high - no matter who is having it.
This family is having great success with their diabetic alert dog. They opted to start with a puppy and train him themselves with the oversight of their trainer. Day in, day out they worked to teach Jasper his obedience skills, good manners (he was a typical happy, waggy, "I want to jump on you and play with you" puppy), while helping him learn to recognize low and high blood sugar levels in his diabetics.
There have been stops and starts this last year. Regrouping. Plan B, C and D. The family kept working. Jasper kept learning and maturing. At 14 months, Jasper is on the job. He consistently alerts during the day to both Roxanne and Dylan's falling and rising blood sugar levels. Like many of his peers, night alerts are just now beginning. Like his day alerts, they will become consistent. It's just a matter of time.
While waiting for those night alerts to become consistent, the training doesn't stop. Picture this: Roxanne is going high and Dylan is going low - at the same time. The family is teaching Jasper specific alerts so they will know who is going what direction. Imagine. A dog who can, with distinctive alerts, tell Dylan he is going low and then tell Roxanne she is going high. And vice versa. Jasper is learning it all while being a great family dog, loving life, working hard.