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Must Reading: Article About Guide Dog Dropouts, Who Alert Type 1 Diabetics to Dangerously Low Blood Sugar Levels

Posted Dec 18 2008 8:11pm

Do you have genetic-based, insulin-dependent Type 1 (diabetes? Does a loved one? Do either of you sometimes slip into a dangerous low blood sugar level no matter how closely you monitor it?

If so, you'll want to know about remarkable Guide Dog dropouts, who can actually sense chemical imbalances in the blood sugar levels of people with Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes). Not only that, but these clever creatures can alert their owners by nudging them to snap out of it in enough time to grab a piece of candy or take insulin so they don't fall into a coma and die. (Yes, although I often alert you here to the perils of consuming too much sugar, in cases such as this, especially with type 1 diabetics who don't produce insulin, taking candy or other sweets could save a person's life.)

Even if you don't have Type 1 diabetes, you'll want to read this fascinating San Francisco Chronicle article, "Guide Dog flunkies earn kudos in their second life as diabetes coma alarms," from prolific columnist Sam Whiting.

Again, please bear in mind that Whiting is talking about an innovative, apparently highly effective way to help people with Type 1 diabetes, which as he explains, "is a genetic disease that causes the immune system to destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

"A Type 1 diabetic must inject insulin or die. High blood sugar is a slow death," Whiting writes. "Low blood sugar, often brought on by an accidental overdose of insulin, can kill in a night, as [the founder of Dogs for Diabetics] Ruefenacht almost didn't discover."

In the U.S., there are as high as 3 million people with Type 1 diabetes but some 1.3 million people are legally blind, Whiting writes.

For more info about these smart dogs, check out Dogs for Diabetics.

While you're scouting around on the Web, you also may wish to read another fascinating article from columnist Whiting about a baby fitness coach.

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