The Lions Foundation of Canada launched a sixth Dog Guide program in the spring: Diabetic Alert Dog Guides.
The new program was the result of international research and consistent requests from Canadians for a Dog Guide that could assist with a very specific and life threatening kind of type one diabetes.
More specifically, these Dog Guides are trained to assist Canadians who have type one diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness. People who have unawareness of hypoglycemia cannot independently detect a drop in their blood sugar, which puts them at a higher risk of falling unconscious, into a coma, or even dying.
Dog Guides are able to provide consistent and accurate monitoring of blood sugar levels by scenting a drop in blood sugar through chemicals released through their handler’s breath.
Currently, the dogs in training have graduated onto ‘scent work,’ which is one of the last phases of preparation before they are paired with a client. Scent work involves using a pod, which is a small capsule that contains a filter that holds onto scent. Pods are provided to approved applicants who breathe into them when they are experiencing low blood sugar. Once the pods are returned to the Lions Foundation, trainers can use them to train with the Dog Guides they are preparing for class – teaching them to alert to the scent.