A service dog can provide assistance for people with many different conditions, such as diabetes. For Sam, having a diabetic alert dog totally changed her life. It’s brought her peace of mind and security knowing that her dog Korey is watching out for her.
“He is my service dog for Type 1 diabetes, so Korey can smell when my blood sugar goes high or low, and he’ll alert me so I can have better control of my diabetes.”
A service dog trained to detect blood sugar can alert its owner in various ways. Korey was trained to “boop” Sam repeatedly to warn her of either high or low blood sugar. For Sam, he’s been a life-saver as well as a cuddly companion to have around.
Sam says this:
“I got Korey two years ago from a breeder here in Germany where I live right now. Korey is a purebred Labrador Retriever. He comes from what they call the working line of Labradors, so they are a bit thinner, a bit more athletic looking, a bit smaller than what you usually think of when you think of a Lab.”
Sam’s had a lifelong battle with type one diabetes. She received this diagnosis at just four years old but had a much harder time managing it in her early 20s. At that point, she only noticed a problem when her blood sugar got dangerously low or high.
So, she decided to get help to better manage her condition. She got her first CGM (continuous glucose monitor), which alerts you when your blood sugar reaches a certain level. However, her CGM didn’t always work correctly, and she and her boyfriend often didn’t hear the alerts at night.
In fact, on several occasions, her boyfriend Michael couldn’t wake her up because her blood sugar had gotten too low. Fortunately, each time he was able to get enough sugar into her bloodstream for her to regain consciousness.
After several of these scares, they decided to get a service dog
After speaking with her endocrinologist, Sam and her boyfriend made the decision to get a diabetic alert dog (DAD). They got Korey in July 2019 when he was just two months old. However, they’d been getting to know him since he was born.
They were lucky enough to find a breeder who specialized in breeding “work” Labrador Retrievers. The breeder assured her that the dogs had a history of good scent training and would make wonderful DADs.
Sam and Michael also enlisted the help of a professional trainer who specialized in service dog and DAD training. They began working with her in August 2019, just a month after adopting Korey. The training program takes 1.5-2 years, although the pandemic has pushed things back a bit. However, they’ve made great progress thus far, and Korey’s set to graduate the program by the end of 2021!
View this post on Instagram
“He alerts me to my blood sugar changes, he wakes me up in the middle of the night, which is most important for me, and that’s how he helps me. I am so eternally grateful for him. I love him so much,” Sam says lovingly of Korey.
Korey even inspired Sam to become a dog trainer herself!
Sam has been a dog lover her whole life and has owned dogs from a young age. Since she had so much success training Korey, she decided to take the plunge and get her dog training license. She says on her website that becoming a dog trainer is one of her proudest accomplishments.
She now offers affordable dog training programs online to help people train diabetic alert dogs. Pre-trained dogs can be very expensive, so the only option for many people is to train their dog themselves.
Korey’s happy that she can contribute to the type one community with her online training programs. She knows firsthand how difficult managing the disease is, so she wanted to make others’ lives a bit easier. Sam offers several programs, from basic consultations and training to the more specific diabetic alert dog training.
Other positive contributions Korey makes in Sam’s life
“He makes me laugh and smile every day. He is just a very silly dog; he’s got a very goofy personality like most Labs, and really, he saves my life,” Sam says.
“Because he is my service dog, Korey comes with me more or less everywhere. So, we’re always together. He comes to work with me; I’m a kindergarten teacher and the kids love him. He loves being at school.”
When Korey’s not at work with her, they’re usually cuddling on the couch or going for walks. Korey also seems to love trips to the hardware store, for some strange reason. It’s his favorite place, in fact! He also loves traveling and exploring new places with the couple.
“His favorite activity is playing fetch, for sure, going on “walkies,” and eating. He loves food – he’s obsessed with cheese – and he does love to sleep too. He’s definitely a snuggly, snuggly dog,” Sam says.
She couldn’t imagine life without Korey now. Not only does he help her manage a life-threatening condition, he gives her unconditional love and support.
View this post on Instagram
“I think the most rewarding thing about being a dog owner is just that they bring so much joy to your life. They bring so much happiness, excitement, so much friendship. He’s really just the best.”
Her advice for anyone wanting to get a service dog or pet in general:
“I would definitely recommend that you prepare yourself before you get any kind of pet so that you know how to take care of their basic needs. Definitely do some research, but it’s so worth it; I mean, they enrich our lives so much.”
Final thoughts on the service dog that helps one woman manage Type 1 diabetes
Service dogs can be trained to do all sorts of things, such as alerting someone to low blood sugar. For Sam, her service dog Korey has made her life much easier and rewarding as well. He’s always by her side to let her know when her blood sugar is getting dangerously high or low. He goes pretty much everywhere with her, and he’s an amazing addition to her life.