Friday, February 26, 2010

Alert Stories

Everyone wants to hear great alert stories….I have to be honest I wish no one ever had to have any need for an alerting dog! For myself, I can handle the high blood glucose readings but I really hate the low blood glucose readings. The lows really leave me feeling bad…but I have another tool in my arsenal to assist in the battle against lows. Their names are Bravo and Radar!

Bravo started alerting naturally, meaning I did not teach a trained response. After I figured out what he was telling me I then started rewarding it and shaping the behavior. A low blood sugar is NOT the time to start dog training!

Bravo’s first alert that I noticed started this way. I was sitting in my recliner watching TV and surfing the net when Bravo came over and laid his head on my lap. I petted him and he backed up and did what I call his ‘pee dance’. I got up to let him outside. When I started to the door to let him out he stood there and looked at me. I went back and sat down. He repeated this behavior. When I stood up he jumped up and wrapped me in a ‘Chessie hug’. At this point I realized that I didn’t feel so good…sure enough I was low.

There have been so many alerts since that first one that I can’t recall all of them, but here are a few more. I was running agility in Idaho. The day had worn on and on. It was getting late but a group of us were going to go to dinner…so I kept snacking to maintain my glucose levels. When Bravo and I got into the ring it was getting dark. We completed half of the course and had just come off the table. Bravo was suppose to be on my right and he indicated that was where he was going when he suddenly comes to my left gets in front of me and stops. I get him back on course and he repeats the come to my left, get in front and stop. I tried a 3rd time again the same reaction…suddenly I realize I don’t feel so good. I thank the judge, take him by the collar, and leave the ring. As soon as we got outside the ring gate he alerted again more strongly. I checked, treated, and was good to go.

Friends had invited me to go hunting. I am not sure who likes bird hunting more…me or Bravo. We found a covey of quail and decided to go after them. It was just going to be a quick hunt so I left my meter and glucose tablets in the truck. I mean what could happen….we are just going across the ditch. Off we go, B is quartering in front of me having a wonderful time. He is even grinning as he runs. Birds come up and we shoot. The covey splits up with a few birds going this way and few going that way, but none of them go very far. So we decide to go after them. This little across the ditch hunt now turns into an hour hike on the hillside. We are heading back to the truck. My buddies are already at the truck. All I have to do is cross the ditch…when suddenly Bravo stops quartering comes back and stops in front of me. I tell him to ‘hunt em up’. He doesn’t move. I repeat…he doesn’t move. One of my buddies hollers at me “KC…I don’t know but that dog sure looks like he is telling you something! I ain’t never seen an alert but that is what it looks like to me. Are you okay?” Sure enough I was low.

It is right before Christmas. I am at a local book store picking up some last minute presents. B is laying at my feet while I browse a book. Suddenly he sits up comes in front of me and stares at me. I place book back on shelf, reach in pocket to grab glucose tabs, walk over and sit down. That is the last thing I remember for a bit. The next was told to me by a lady who helped. She said that my dog was sitting with his head in my lap. Occasionally he would pay at me or whine. She said I just stared off into space. She came up and asks me some questions. Said I made no sense whatsoever. She is also diabetic and asks me if she could get me a coke. I guess I told her no I needed insulin. She then knew something was very wrong! So she ask if she could check my blood sugar. I was down to 15! She then ask if she could give me some insulin….said I was very agreeable to that and she used my glucagon pen to administer fast acting glucose. My brain returned……when I checked with my meter I was up to 27! As I continued to get my wits about me…she commented that the reason she checked on me was that my dog was so persistent in getting to me.
Driving down the road with a friend…suddenly B is whining and resting his head on her shoulder. He is being very persistent! She is also diabetic so I ask her to check her sugar. She is down to 42!

I am judging a Hunt Test. Bravo is in a kennel in the back of my truck about 50 yards from the line. A lady comes to me and lets me know that my dog is barking and digging at his kennel door “like he needs to go air (bathroom)”. We get a break so I go let him out. He jumps out of truck runs to me and wraps me in a hug…so I check my sugar. Meter says I am at 100 (fine). I put him back in his kennel…but he is still acting up. One more dog runs the test when suddenly I don’t feel good. I recheck and am now down in the 50’s. If someone wants to explain to me this alert I am all ears. He was 50 yards away from me in the truck, yet somehow he knew! Bravo never acts like that in his kennel…”Hey Owens…TRUST YOUR DOG!”

Just last night I sat down to watch the Olympics and was talking on the phone. When Bravo comes over drops his head in my lap and stares at me….sure enough I was in the 70’s. Not horrible but still enough I am going to treat.

Then there are the nighttime lows. You know you go to sleep you are fine and you wake up and you aren’t! Anyone who has had those nighttime drops if honest will tell you that it makes you afraid to go to sleep. You worry you might not wake up. It is scary stuff! Numerous times I have awoken to Bravo pawing and whining at me, only to check and find out that my numbers are dropping low. Sometimes I am really hard to wake up. I get over tired or over stressed and I can sleep through an earthquake. In the last few months there has been several times where I as I awake I can hear Bravo whining or barking but what woke me up was Radar digging at my head! As I said in a previous post Radar is still in training and he is an aggressive alerter...meaning he goes after it…but if it gets me up I am fine with it!

There are many more instances of them alerting me or others, but you get the idea. I wish they didn’t have to do this…I honestly don’t understand all of what they are doing…..BUT I AM VERY GLAD they do!


  1. Great way to share experiences and stories.
    It's looking much better than yesterday ;-)

  2. I'm so proud of Bravo.

    It's a wonderful thing, all the varied things dogs can do for/with us. We just need to be open to it, willing to "listen" to them and read the signals they send...

    Good luck in your journey. Pat the critters, and hope to see you tomorrow!