Dogs trained to detect changes in diabetics' blood sugar

Posted at: 08/07/2013 7:07 PM
By: Ashley McElroy, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Nine-year-old Chanelle Roark thought she was taking pictures in the park with her parents today, but when she saw all her other family and friends too she knew something was up.

"So I was like ‘Hmm, maybe Diesel's here today,’" she said.

Diesel is Chanelle's new service dog.

Chanelle has type 1 diabetes and her parents have been fundraising since October to get him. Diesel is trained to sense if Chanelle's blood sugar is too low or too high by the smell of her breath.

"When her breath rises, it starts to smell really sweet and fruity, and when it drops low it smell acetone. So, we teach them to alert to those specific scents," said Tim Molina, Diesel’s trainer from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers.

Chanelle constantly has to check her blood sugar, including the hours she's sleeping. Every night her mom, Amy, wakes up every night to check if her blood sugar is too high or too low. 

"Laying your head down and waiting for that next check to come and then when you go to her room I always have a prayer in my heart that she's still breathing because her sugar can go too low and she could just not wake up," Amy said. 

But now that Diesel's here, he can alert Chanelle and her parents if her blood sugar isn't normal.

"He can pick up the changes in her blood sugar up to 45 minutes before any electronic device can or even before she can," said Amy.

Chanelle said she excited Diesel's finally here.

"Cause' he's going to be a life saver," she said.

Chanelle's mom said they'll continue to help other diabetes patients get service dogs. To learn more about the organization, Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, that's helping Chanelle's family with Diesel, click here.