US judge praises hypo alert dog for helping to spot low blood sugar

Jack Woodfield
Wed, 19 Sep 2018
US judge praises hypo alert dog for helping to spot low blood sugar
A US judge has paid tribute to his diabetes service dog who he says helps him do his job and manage his condition better.

Howard Sturim, who sits in New York’s Nassau County Court, has type 2 diabetes and decided to enlist the help of a canine companion from Diabetic Alert Dogs of America.

Barney, an Irish setter-poodle crossbreed, had 10 months of scent training to help him spot changes in blood sugar levels just from body odour.

He normally sleeps under the bench at court, but if a potential problem is detected, Barney paws at Howard giving him plenty of time to take the relevant action.

The dog has sat through 20 jury trials and only been noticed once, after he sneezed.

Speaking to Newsday newspaper, Mr Sturim said: "Before him, I would just take oral medication and insulin. Because I have him, I can be more aggressive. My numbers have never been better."

The UK has its own alert dogs charity, Medical Detection Dogs, which has trained a number of dogs to help save their owners’ livesthrough recognising low blood sugar.

Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, which trained Barney, say they train all their animals in a "positive and loving environment" which it believes is "key to our successful dog training program".

The organisation's aim is to provide individuals and families who find managing their diabetes a challenge with a world class service dog, saying they provide "quality of life by providing independence, companionship and life-saving abilities".

Editor's note: If you or someone you know struggles to spot hypo symptoms, visit our Hypo Training Program. Six months after taking the course people experience 63% fewer severe hypos.
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