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May 8, 2012

Diabetic alert dog a pleasant addition to family

Those of you who read this column regularly will recall that my diabetic alert dog was due to join the family very soon.

Banting arrived on Friday, April 13, and was welcomed by Robin and me, with WCAX prepared to film and interview the occasion. We spent that weekend working with the trainers to learn about Banting, his special skills and proper care. Training sites included the house, work, various restaurants and the mall.

The trainer's goals were to educate me with respect to working with Banting in various locations and to learn to detect his warnings.

If any of us were skeptical about his ability to alert me to blood-sugar changes, Banting cured us of that in our first 30 minutes together. While sitting on the couch with Robin and me, Banting became rather excited and sniffed my face a few times. Keen to his actions, the trainers suggested a blood-sugar test. Apparently, with all of the excitement, I had not finished my breakfast and was faced with a sugar of 40. Needless to say, we were all amazed.

The last few weeks have been filled with learning, dog treats and many blood tests. One of the more difficult issues has been differentiating between a blood-sugar warning and the need to go outside. As a result, many blood tests have been completed out on the lawn.

Although still a puppy, Banting does very well with blood-glucose detection. For example, as we walked through the mall, he became very irritated and started whining. A quick check — done with Banting paying close attention — demonstrated a sugar of 130. We continued our walk, and he continued to be irritated. Suspicious that he was detecting a trend, I rechecked the sugar about 20 minutes later and was pleased to see that he was right. I was down to 60. After a snack and a few moments of rest, we were all walking pleasantly through the shops.

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