Sunday, January 16, 2005

SuperDog Saves Diabetic Owner's Life

This isn't a new story really, but the subject matter isn't common knowledge, and I find it VERY interesting.

Pioneer Pooches Detect Diabetes Crises
By Zoe Francis, Correspondent for Tri-Valley Herald

PITTSBURG, November 12--A 1-year-old black Labrador puppy named Benton may have saved Mark Ruefenacht's life.

Ruefenacht was traveling in New York City five years ago with Benton, a guide dog in training, when the normally well-behaved dog roused his traveling companion from a deep sleep.

"He was pawing at me," Ruefenacht said. "He had his paws on the bed and was barking. It was activity that was unlike the normal personality of this dog."

Ruefenacht has diabetes that he manages with insulin shots. That evening, he had given himself extra insulin so he could have dessert. He then made the mistake of going to bed without checking his blood.

The extra insulin caused Ruefenacht's blood sugar to plunge to a dangerously low level.

"I knew I had a problem, but I was having a hard time bringing myself up to consciousness," Ruefenacht said. "Benton persisted in waking me up until I was able to get out of bed to help myself." Ruefenacht has no idea how low his blood sugar dropped that night. He shudders at the thought of what might have happened if Benton hadn't been so relentless. {more}

I've spoken with Mr. Ruefenacht about his Dogs4Diabetics Program, where he trains these amazing dogs on diabetic alert. What a wonderful idea. And I've heard through the grapevine that the dogs are going to be provided at no cost to the diabetic patients. The Dogs4Diabetics site hasn't been updated for awhile, but you may email him through a link there. Be patient--he gets hundreds of emails each day from all over the world. They expect to go live with their dogs program in about six months.

Another program like this is HeavenScent Paws, also wonderful. They require a fundraising commitment, as these dogs take around $12,000 to train, but no one has ever had trouble reaching the fundraising goal.