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Man's best friend and more

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We all know that a dog, apart from being man's best friend, has also had other uses through the ages, for example:

  • Labradors used to help fishermen to get the nets out of the sea.
  • German (and other) shepherds, collies, certain terriers helped shepherds control their flocks.
  • Bouvier used to have the same function on the farms for the cows.
  • Retrievers helped the hunters get their animals they had caught.
  • Some dogs used to pull a milkma's cart

And then later:

  • Guide dogs assisted the blind and the deaf.
  • Rescue dogs were used in the snow in the mountains.
  • Sniffer dogs used to help look for people.
  • Explosive dogs were used to find bombs.
  • Drug dogs were used to find narcotics.
  • Body dogs were used to find survivors under debris and rubble.

These ar examples of the functions a dog can be useful for (I can't say that I agree with every single one of them, but there you go), and for the majority of these functions, dogs rely on their strongest feature: their smell.


Now recently, I saw a new use they have found and they trained a dog for, and it seems to work wonderfully well.

This function is a diabetes dog.

Unlike a guide dog for the blind and the deaf, the diabetes dog is not constantly walking next to his owner in a harness, here is how I saw it on the news:

It was a 9-year old diabetic girl, and, as dogs and children tend to do, her and the dog (a spaniel, see picture), were playing in the garden together.

But as soon as something went wrong with the girl's sugar levels either way (whether they went up too high or sank too low), the dog barked.

When the dog barked, the girl's mother came out, measured the girl's sugar levels and then did what had to be done, according to what was wrong with her daughter's sugars.

The best one is: NOT ONCE had the dog been wrong.


How exactle did that work, how did the dog spot the differences?

Very simple, as explained before, the dog's most developed sense: his smell.

They had trained the dog by letting the girl breathe into a special plastic bag under the different circumstances: a) with normal sugars b) with a hyper (sugar too high) c) with a hypo (sugar too low) and let the dog smell that air under all three circumstances and developed his smell recognition this way.


I think that was really a wonderful idea  and many people could probably benefit from it.

So, keep training the dogs, I would say.


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