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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

First Day of Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year (Austin 15, Bo 5) 
Today Austin took Bo with him to school for their first day together as sophomores. Bo alerted to a high of 190 and re-alerted at 230. Austin says they worked well together. My heart is happy with this news.

Austin's teachers had this to share regarding Austin and Bo in their classrooms today:
"I have Austin S2 and frankly I didn't even know that Bo was in the room until I was walking around class and saw him gracefully lying below Austin's feet."
"I just met Bo last block. It is clear that Austin and Bo are a team and it was an effortless transition having Bo in class."
"We didn't even realize Bo was in class today until half way through, so the two of them have his presence down to a science - very impressive! "
AM Drop Off at School
I've always believed the biggest compliment to our service dog (SD) team is when someone says s/he didn't notice Bo. If Bo is doing his job well, he will go unnoticed most of the time. By this I mean, he will be tucked tight and out of the way of traffic; he will be quiet and settled on place; he will alert discreetly and only escalate his alert if, for some reason, Austin is not responding to him.

Knowing boy and pup are working as a team on their own in a highly distracting environment like high school fills my heart with joy and pride. Knowing Bo is catching out of range blood sugars that otherwise would have gone undetected (until a scheduled check) is reassuring and comforting. We know when Austin and Bo are together 24/7 during the summer Austin's A1c is the lowest. The more time they are spending together during the day at school, the more likely we'll see A1c results that ensure Austin's long term health and well being.
Loading Up in Car for School


  1. Jenn,

    This is such a useful blog, and utility aside, your telling of Bo and Austin's story (not to mention your own) is as helpful as it is touching. I notice you don't update quite as often as you did earlier on. I'm self-training a DAD and had a few questions about the process and your experience if your not too busy to lend me some of your expertise.

    1. I'm happy to answer questions you may have Leroy.

    2. Jenn,

      My DAD Millie uses a paw touch (to my hand) as an alert, after which I'll check and then ask her to show me (high or low). Ideally, I'd like to get her to a place where she's consistently targeting the left hand for a low and the right hand for highs, rather than targeting, waiting for a check and then picking a hand. I'm not sure the best way to go about getting this from her, have you had any success with Bo in this area? Also, Millie likes to use the paw target as a general way to get my attention (if she needs to go outside, etc.) I'd like to curb this, and keep that behavior for alerts and alerts alone, but am a bit lost as to how to do that.
      Finally, have you ever had issues with other dogs barking at Bo in public/acting aggressively toward him? If so, how have you dealt with those situations and how have you been able to keep him focused?
      Thank you again.

    3. Great questions! The featured post on my blog entitled, "Is That Service Dog Team Real or Fake?" explains a situation when another dog reacted to Bo while in public. It explains how I worked Bo past the barking dog and helped Bo maintain his focus. You can find the post at:

      I'll answer your other question in a separate reply later today.

    4. I wrote a blog post about stimulus control that you might find helpful. It explains what stimulus control is and how we practice it. You can likely found more articles online on stimulus control that will help you get Millie's alert under good stimulus control. You can find the post I wrote at:

  2. Thanks for your kind words Leroy. It's nice to hear you've found the information on my blog of use. I'm happy to answer questions about my experience training Bo to be a Diabetic Alert Dog.

  3. I don't have experience training Bo to alert to my left hand or right hand depending on if Austin is high or low. Bo is trained to bow to indicate a low blood sugar. I'm not a professional trainer but based on my experience I think it would be difficult to train a dog to distinguish between targeting a right vs. left hand. My advice would be to train a totally different cue to alert low on the verbal command 'what am I?"

    1. Thank you Jenn. This is sound advice. Do you use clickers when training specific behaviors related to alerting?

    2. You're welcome.
      I did, and still do, use a clicker in all my training with Bo. I published a blog post containing video of training Bo to target tape on my leg that you might find helpful. You can find it at:

      Prior to training Bo to bump the tape target on my leg as seen in the video mentioned above, I trained him to target tape on a wall. You can see video of that training, plus video of me training him to paw swipe, at:

  4. Jenn,

    Thank you, I am diving into stimulus control now. Lots of good information out there.