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More ducking fiabetes! Changed my Dexcom sensor and got a lovely bloody surprise on my shirt. At least I changed it the night before a trial.


On the plus side, Noelle woke me up because my blood glucose was too high. I never trained for high alerts. Clever poodle figured them out on her own. Noelle is nice. Diabetes not so much.
 

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(((Hugs)))
 
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Today I learned that basal blood glucose needs can double overnight some nights, or drop by half other nights. Well, that explains why my overnight readings look like a rollercoaster created by a crazy person. I know that stress makes my blood sugar spike. I wonder if a nightmare makes my blood sugar go bananas? Wouldn't surprise me at all.

Noelle has added a new behavior to our lives together. She comes over for a breath check every so often. It's like she's being a nurse! She sticks her nose on my nose and snuffles. I breathe for a moment, then she backs off. I check my blood glucose monitor afterward. Every single time, I'm either rising or falling. Not a significant enough change for me to do something about it, but Noelle notices the most subtle little shifts. She's gotten better and better over the years.

I think diabetes alert dogs are amazing. Research this year out of the University of Bristol has some interesting findings. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0210092

Some of the findings:

"There were a number of the partnership traits which were associated with better alert performance (see odds ratios in Table 2). Specifically, increased sensitivity was associated with dogs scoring higher for Strength of dog’s alert, Willingness to try new behaviours and “get it wrong” and Dog’s Motivation and enjoyment of the task (only sensitivity to hypoglycaemic episodes was significantly affected). Increased sensitivity was also associated with the client-based factors of higher Level of communication with the instructor, higher Severity of client’s diabetes, greater Clients’ willingness to reward dog’s alerts, smaller Size of household, and higher Speed of drop in client’s glucose (only hypoglycaemia sensitivity was significantly affected),

Higher PPV (fewer false responses) was positively associated with Client’s willingness to reward dog’s alerts, Confidence in their dog’s ability, Size of household, and with dogs that were rated higher for Motivation and enjoyment of the task, Strength of dog’s alert, and Willingness to try new behaviours and get it wrong” (Table 2)."

In plain English: For a diabetes alert dog to be successful, the human must reward alerts and make it very clear to the dog they did it right. And... the dog needs to be motivated, willing to try different tasks, and enjoy it. Combine both a willing human and a willing dog, and you've got an amazing team in the making.

I think Noelle is so successful as an alert dog because I am a clicker trainer who uses positive reinforcement to train. Get it right, get reinforced. Get it wrong, nothing happens, except I'll lower criteria until I make it obvious as a stoplight what I want, then I'll reinforce the right choice. And I'll raise criteria in smaller steps next time. That's how I train.

According to the science out of the University of Bristol, that type of training leads to stronger performance in diabetes alert dogs. You can't hit a dog for the wrong response, or ignore the right response, and expect an alert dog to keep alerting. Noelle never false alerts. I think it's because I ignored them early on. No reaction either positive or negative helped Noelle figure out that false alerts lead to a dead end.

Interesting that alert dogs don't respond as well to children. Probably because children don't realize the importance of always reinforcing the dog. And alert dogs don't work as well in a busy house full of people. Again, probably due to lack of intensive reinforcement.

I respond to Noelle's alert before I treat my own low. Tag, you're low, Mom. Good dog. Off we go to the kitchen now. Noelle gets some chicken or cheese while I guzzle a Coke. Those short little 25 gram cans of pop are splendid for treating low blood glucose.

I love my diabetes alert dog. Have I said that before? Well, it's true. I do love this dog. Lots and lots and lots.

 

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You are welcome! I figure by having a public training journal I am helping other people learn more about service dogs. Plus, if I ever get thrown out of a business because of my service dog, this serves as a record that Noelle really was individually trained and meets the legal definition of service dog.

I don’t post here often. Noelle quietly does her job as trained. Love her for that. Always.
 

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Click-N-Treat, I too use your training method for my Service Dog. It is so much more effective than methods that use 'corrections', etc. Thank you for posting your successes. So happy for you.

A librarian at the local library said their dog started alerting to her young son's diabetes. Every time she was right on. But the mom got so tired of being woken up at night that she locked the dog out of her room! I felt so sad.

Blessings, Suse :)
 

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Oh no! I'm sorry to hear the librarian didn't get the memo. Alerts are handy. Especially if someone, and we are not going to mention who, ate chicken and biscuits for dinner, and completely forgot to bolus insulin. Noelle had her nose in this person's face over and over, and finally this person remembered to check his or her blood glucose. And his or her blood was turning into pancake syrup! Oh no! Thanks Noelle. I'll try not to screw up and forget to... ahem. I'll remind this person not to screw up again.

Right now my blood glucose is a perfect 100. But, Noelle is restless. I'm probably dropping. Gotta have a snack and go to bed. Diabetes alert dogs for the win.
 

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Just another grateful reader. Your threads are actually one of the reasons I joined PF-- a fantastic poodle SD team whose training philosophies align with my own and with huge documentation! I love it. My future SD will be trained for completely different tasks, but I hope we're as good as you and Noelle as a team eventually.

Thanks for sharing so much here, it's really been wonderful to read.
 

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Just another grateful reader. Your threads are actually one of the reasons I joined PF-- a fantastic poodle SD team whose training philosophies align with my own and with huge documentation! I love it. My future SD will be trained for completely different tasks, but I hope we're as good as you and Noelle as a team eventually.

Thanks for sharing so much here, it's really been wonderful to read.
Welcome Gemstorm! I am so glad to know there are several of us Poodle Service Dog owners here!

I was in a play tonight, and at least half the audience came up to me afterwards and said how amazed they were that my dog, a Spoo, simply laid there and watched me through the performance. Of course commenting that their own dogs would have been obnoxious! Positive gentle training works :)
 

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Welcome Gemstorm! I am so glad to know there are several of us Poodle Service Dog owners here!

I was in a play tonight, and at least half the audience came up to me afterwards and said how amazed they were that my dog, a Spoo, simply laid there and watched me through the performance. Of course commenting that their own dogs would have been obnoxious! Positive gentle training works :)
I should specify I'm not a Poodle SD handler yet, my first attempt at owner training a rescue mutt failed big time and I'm finally on a waitlist for a future SDiT started by an org, finished with private training and org combined as needed for me and dog's best success since I live so close to them I can utilize their knowledge and they're a force-free program.

Isn't it great when that happens? Heck, my girl flunked out of training (I say it fondly) and we had some amazing highs. My favorite was when we preboarded our first ever flight to avoid getting hit by bags and had a friend sitting in the middle to our window, and the guy in the aisle had no reason to look closely at me in window and did a huge double take when we landed and he found out he'd shared a row with a 55 pound dog all the way from Massachusetts to Minnesota. He actually said, "Has she been there the whole time?" before realizing of course she had, not like she got on mid-air.

It was pretty validating. We also did a ballroom dance competition together (me working, hired as the photographer) a few times but the last and hardest was most of the time with a split floor, meaning we spent much of the time with dancers within a few inches on both sides to have two sets going at once. She was sick as heck (I had no good options, she got sick overnight, and was waiting to get her a ride to the hospital without destroying both my reputation and my income since I can't drive, we were out of state, and my folks were driving up to get her and take her to the doctor and frankly it was going to do more good for her than saving /maybe/ an hour and a half but destroying me professionally in a way I would never have been able to fix) and was still a gem, she was doing PA there but no tasking and lots of breaks. I found out the next day that people actually thought I was kidding for the rest of the day when I said she was in the hospital-- she was so good and calm and apparently the general public really, really doesn't read dogs well. The next year the judges for the event and I were chatting and one kept giving me a weird look. He and another finally approached to figure it out: they couldn't place it, but I had a cast last year, right? They knew me, but couldn't remember what was wrong with me last year and one was convinced it had been a cast on my arm, the other I was on crutches....apparently my bright gold, sick as heck service dog with crystal blue eyes had not registered as a dog on the dance floor to them and just as "photographer is sick". I couldn't stop laughing when I explained what it actually was they were thinking of because it was a great experience; these are fairly opinionated and blunt people who tell you if your dog is annoying to have on the dance floor even if they shouldn't and not only did they actually appropriately read her presence as a medical need, she'd also made little enough impact in a situation where nobody could possibly miss her that they forgot why they could see something medical going on with me.

I know I'm bragging but I wasn't great at this and we had a few successes considering how poorly I set us up. Positive reinforcement, tons of time, lots of self-assessment and literal nonstop attempts to find better experienced professional guidance--> literally the only things I did right.

Your SD sounds incredible! I hope one day me and my future one will reach that level, where maybe I can compete a heat at a dance competition again and have him/her waiting (with a friend for dog's safety, these things are very crowded and have a young crowd that takes liberties with things sometimes) on the sidelines like that.


Y'all are inspiring. I'm overtired and rambling.
 
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