A diabetes detection dog with the appropriate name of Hero can sense when the blood sugar level of 4-year-old Sadie is dangerously low or high.
If it’s too low, the Labrador Retriever whines, and nudges or paws Sadie’s parents’ left hands. If it’s too high, he does the same to their right hands.
One day last December, Hero started pawing the left hand of Sadie’s mom, Michelle. But at the time, Sadie, who has Type 1 diabetes and Down syndrome, was attending a special-needs class at an elementary school five miles away from their home in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
“He’s normally a very quiet dog,” Michelle told KUTV. “Whining is not in his protocol. But he just started whining and he would not stop.”
Michelle called the school and was told Sadie was fine. But within half an hour, the girl’s blood sugar level plummeted.
“The lows are more dangerous immediately,” Michelle told KUTV. “(With) lows, she could go into a diabetic coma right away, and she could die, if we kept her low too long.”
Caroline Knadler, the school principal, told KUTV Hero’s long-distance detection blew her mind. Knadler, who also has Type 1 diabetes, said Hero once detected her own blood sugar level drop during a parent-teacher meeting.
KC Owens, owner of Tattle Tale Scent Dogs in Utah, where dogs like Hero are trained to be diabetic alert dogs, told KUTV these dogs can use their hundreds of millions of scent receptors to pick up odors from a mile or two away. But five miles?
It might not have been Hero’s amazing sense of smell that let him know something was wrong with Sadie.
“How do dogs know when their owners are coming home?” Owens asked. “There’s another piece of it that I call, ‘God only knows.'”
Michelle told KUTV she thought it was something similar to a mother’s intuition. “These dogs have abilities and senses beyond our understanding,” she said.
On the Sadie’s Hero Facebook page, Michelle wrote that she didn’t want to give the impression that all diabetic alert dogs can detect from miles away as Hero seemed to do.
“They don’t,” she wrote, adding that many of Owens’ teams “have experienced this too many times to be coincidence, but it doesn’t happen with every low or with every dog. So while we can’t and won’t even try to explain how this happens, we feel blessed. Even without the long-distance alerts, he is amazing.”
Sadie’s dad told KUTV, “I’ve always called Sadie our little angel, and I think Hero was a little angel sent into our lives to watch over her.”
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