The story of a boy living with Type 1 and his family's journey to raise and train a diabetic alert dog.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Scent Samples

Thanks to our pharmacist we got a bag full of empty test strip vials from Abbott Diabetes Care. We use the vials to store Austin's blood sugar scent samples. They are the perfect size for one gauze pad and they provide an airtight seal. 

Bo got visibly excited when I spilled the contents of the bag on the table to take this picture. I can imagine he saw the vials and thought we were going to do training. This supply of vials, combined with the used ones we collect from Austin's test strips, should keep us stocked for awhile. 

We do scent training with Bo daily. Up until recently, we only collected low samples between 70 - 89. Now we are collecting samples over 200 to build our high supply. To collect the samples, Austin puts a sterile gauze pad in his mouth when his blood sugar is a number within our training range. He leaves it in his mouth long enough to saturate the gauze with his saliva. We then put the sample in a test strip vial, label it with his blood sugar number and store it in the freezer for use at a future date.

We also use real time lows and highs to train Bo on these scents, however the samples allow us to do training at any time. For example, this morning I put a low sample in my car and then loaded-up Bo. When he alerted to the low, I made a big deal about it and brought him inside to get his food reward. We repeated this a second time and will continue to train in the car, so Bo learns it is another place where his boy can go low. 

On our walk this afternoon with Bo, I was thinking about trying scent training outdoors. I was watching Bo sniff the ground, the ferns, the rocks and the tree stumps and thought it may be a good idea to train in this environment because of all the scent distractions it provides. I haven't read about scent training outdoors... I'll do some research and see what I find. 

While on our walk today, we took video of Bo cooling off in the brook that wove its way around the trail we were hiking. The temperature was in the 90s today and even with the shade of the trees, it was hot. Bo took every opportunity to cool off in the running water. This video shows him navigating his way across the uneven bed of the brook. 

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