Sep 10, 2009 11:35 AM by Elisa Hahn
A Gig Harbor, Washington teenager who suffers from acute diabetes has a state-of-the-art glucose monitor. It has four legs and a nose for blood sugar.
Liam Kelly, a 14-year-old diabetic, arrived Wednesday night for his training session with his service dog max. The black lab has a built in glucose monitor: his nose.
"I personally won't know where I'm at but someone I can rely on and trust will know," says Liam.
Liam was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes last year and is insulin dependent. He requires round-the-clock glucose monitoring.
By jumping up and pawing his chest, Max tells Liam to test his blood. The dog can smell his blood sugar is either too low or too high - all by the scent of Liam's breath.
"Dropping down to a low, to a dog it smells like a metal bucket - a real acetone type smell. The highs are real sugary, real different," said Ron Pace of the Canyon Crest K-9 Training Center in Tacoma.
Pace has trained police and drug sniffing dogs for 30 years.
He trained this diabetic service dog a similar way.
"Teaching a dog to use its nose, it just depends what you want it to find," said Pace.
"It allows me to be a mom instead of diabetes sheriff," says Lisa Kelly, Liam's Mom. "I can sit back and not nag, 'What's your number? What did you do? What are you eating?"
During the exercise, Max picks up on another diabetic sitting on the couch.
Ken Running, who also suffers from Type 1 Diabetes, came to watch the training session. He says glucose monitors have failed him, and he's looking for help.
"I've had extreme low blood sugars and I can't detect them at all, to the point in the last four months, I've been in a coma three times and the hospital once," said Running