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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Video: High Alert from Bo

I was sitting at the dining room table this evening and Bo came to alert to me. He alerted with a paw swipe. I asked, 'What is he?' This is what I ask after he alerts. He is trained to alert with a paw swipe and bow if he smells a low and to alert with a paw swipe followed by another paw swipe if he smells a high.  When I asked 'What is he?' he gave another paw swipe. We checked Austin and he was 189, which is within Bo's high threshold for rewards. Bo got rewarded for this high alert and Austin got a correction bolus before bed.

One behavior Bo will give when he is alerting is the look that you see in this video when his head is resting on my leg. This is a tell tail sign that he smells an out of range blood sugar. He gives this look and head rest when he is waiting for us to respond to an alert. Over the course of our two year journey raising and training Bo, I've learned that having a successful DAD has a lot to do with paying attention to your dog's behavior patterns and understanding what behaviors are precursors to (or associations with) alerts.

For example, I can anticipate an alert from Bo when he does any of the following:

  • Breaks his place to come over to me;
  • Leaves (or drops) a food-filled Kong before it's empty and comes to find me;
  • Jumps off the bed and comes running out to me when he had been resting quietly;
  • Jumps off Austin's bed at night and whines at the bedroom door gate.

Video: Bo Waiting for His Food Bin to Be Refilled

In this video, I'm in the garage refilling Bo's food bin and I've given Bo the commands to sit and stay. I take my time filling each bin in front of him. When I'm done, I reward him with pieces of kibble in fast succession. You see him air scent and tongue flick but he doesn't break his stay. Even when I go to him to reward him, he holds his sit stay. He moves out of his sit stay when I place the kibble on the ground in front of him.

Video: Brushing Bo's Teeth

I brush Bo's teeth as part of our nightly routine. I bring him into the kitchen and let him watch me prepare his toothbrush with toothpaste. I then squat down to his level, ask him to come and gently hold onto his collar before putting the toothbrush in his mouth. He likes the taste of the toothpaste but he doesn't get excited about the actual teeth brushing. I'd say he tolerates it. What's your assessment?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Video: Demonstrating the Command 'Close'

The close command is one I learned from one of my Guiding Eye for the Blind (GEB) puppy raiser friends. It's a command to prompt your dog to sit between your legs when you are either standing or sitting. It took a lot of patience and practice to teach Bo this command. I wish I would have taken video when I started teaching it, so I could show the progression of Bo's learning. Instead, I just have this video of the end product.

Video: Bo Working in Staples

These videos were taken a couple of weeks ago when I was training Bo at our local Staples office supply store. I'm using a hands-free leash and I'm rewarding Bo for eye contact.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Alerts: Do They Ever Get Old?

Bo came into my room tonight while I was vacuuming and alerted. My bedroom door was closed and he pushed through it to get to me. He typically waits at a closed door for us to open it, so when he did this I had a feeling he was coming to tell me something. He walked over the vacuum hose, came to my side and alerted with a paw swipe. I didn't ask, 'What is he?' Instead, I turned off the vacuum and headed to the kitchen to get Austin's pack. Austin was 79. You'd think after experiencing hundreds of Bo's alerts they would get old but I can honestly say they don't. Each alert is unique in one way or another. For example, tonight's alert was the first he has given while I was using the vacuum. In addition to getting past the closed door, he had to maneuver around the vacuum canister and hose and he had to get my attention with the noise of the vacuum running. These may seem like simple tasks but in a dog's world they are a lot of distractions. He worked around them, proving his willingness and ability to to do what we have trained him to do, and he did his job beautifully!