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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's Really Easy to Think You've Broken Your Dog

It's really easy to think you've broken your dog. Okay, maybe I should say it's really easy for me to think I've broken my dog. When something doesn't go as planned or expected, my first thought is I've done something wrong in the training process. 

A perfect example of what I'm talking about happened tonight. Within a half hour of returning home from eating dinner out, Bo alerted to me. The time was 8:18 pm Austin's blood sugar was 151. Now, 151 is not in Bo's reward range. For this reason, I checked Austin with a different meter and different test strips. I wanted to see if it registered a number in Bo's reward range but it didn't. Instead it read 154. Ugh! The information suggested this was a false alert, so I gave Bo the all set command. Then at 8:29 pm Bo alerted again. I checked and Austin was 132. Again, not in Bo's reward range, so I told Bo all set and planned to recheck Austin in 15 minutes. At 8:40 pm, Bo alerted yet again. Austin was 119. I repeated what I had done for the past two alerts and Bo alerted again at 8:50 pm. Austin, as you might imagine, was not happy about getting checked again. He allowed me to check and he was 114. I knew Austin's blood sugar was trending down but I was concerned by the fact Bo started alerting when Austin's blood sugar was 151. I couldn't keep myself from thinking I had done something to confuse him and his confusion was resulting in these incorrect alerts. Finally, at 9:05 pm Bo alerted again. This time Austin was 98 which is in Bo's low reward range. I finally treated Bo and gave Austin a 8g carb snack. 

Why had Bo started alerting when Austin was 151 and why did he continue to alert every 10 or so minutes until he reached 98? Why didn't Bo just alert when Austin reached 98? How should I interpret the four alerts that preceded the one alert that was rewardable? Was I doing something in Bo's training that was confusing him. These were some of the questions I was asking myself. I decided to reach our to a few experienced DAD owners to ask for their opinions and insight. No sooner did I send my message to them when I heard Bo jump off of Austin's bed and whine at the Austin's bedroom door gate. Austin removed the gate and Bo came directly to me in bed. He didn't paw or bow; he just stood at the side of the bed staring at me and whining. He then jumped on my bed and pawed me. I asked him if we should check and he jumped off the bed and headed toward my bedroom door and looked back to see if I was following. It was now 9:39 pm. I checked Austin, who said he felt fine, and he was 47

Clearly, Bo was smelling Austin's blood sugar drop. One of the experienced DAD owners I sought advice from, who is also a DAD trainer, explained what happened like this:
"When there is a steady drop over time and the dog is tracking the trend, I believe the dog's work is validated. That was a steady drop, which resulted in a plummet at the end. Bo was accurate and persistent, in my mind-giving you information to stay on top of the drop. His information was not only accurate but most beneficial."
Okay, so I guess I haven't broken him. Now, if I could just stop worrying that I will.

1 comment:

  1. You are a parent, dog and boy, and as we all know...the second-guessing never seems to stop. At least that is my experience.