Blood-scenting and Alerting
Since the last post, Glimmer has been working hard on her lessons. And recently, she was introduced to a new lesson: blood-scenting. Blood-scenting is the first step to teaching a dog to alert to a change in blood sugar in a human with diabetes or hypoglycemia. For a diabetic, a drop in blood sugar can result in diabetic shock, coma, or even death; for a hypoglycemic, a drop in blood sugar can result in shortness of breath, becoming light-headed and dizzy, vomiting, and even fainting. Detecting and alerting to changes in blood sugars can make the difference between life and death.
Glimmer is learning to blood-scent because I have hypoglycemia. I’ve lost count of the number of times my blood sugar has suddenly dropped and I’ve nearly fainted. Glimmer already alerts me to the onset of dizzy spells – and she does a great job; teaching her to blood-scent is merely taking her considerable skills to a higher level.
The lesson began when I started feeling my blood sugar drop. I waited for the right moment to draw some blood, and then the work began. Glimmer did surprisingly well with the lesson. She even grounded me as I’ve taught her to do, and she did not break the position – not even after I released her from it. In fact, she maintained it for almost two more minutes.
Over the years, where my health is concerned, Glimmer has taught me to trust her judgment. She has proven over and over again that she knows far better than I when I’m okay and when I’m not. So, while many may say I’m doing wrong by allowing her to take a leadership role, years of experience have proven that it’s the right thing to do. When a dog is allowed to do their job this way, not only does it create mutual trust, it also strengthens the bond between the human and the dog.
Glimmer’s lessons with blood-scenting will continue. I will video some of these lessons so you can see her progress.