Home Health A new home for a diabetic dog who could be a life-saving...

A new home for a diabetic dog who could be a life-saving companion


Some mornings, Eliza Bartlett, 30, who lives with type 1 diabetes, struggles to wake up.

“I’ve had moments in the past where I really didn’t wake up in the morning … my family found me,” Ms Bartlett said.

“Luckily, I’ve always been able to swallow food in these situations.”

But today, Ms. Bartlett has a new addition to her life, Sel the Labradoodle, who she believes could save her life.

Sal has finished intense training and will be able to sniff out low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.

Eliza Bartlett with her new companion, Sal, a diabetic dog. (ABC News: Evelyn Manfield )

As one of thousands of people in Australia living with type 1 diabetes, Ms Bartlett waited two years for her new companion.

SA Charity Australian Lions Hearing Dogs (ALHD) donated Sal to Ms Bartlett, the first of the charity in Australia.

“I’ve always wanted one and I’m a big dog lover too,” Ms Bartlett said.

“I just have Sel with me all the time, who can either save my life or just be a great companion.

“She’ll smell if my blood sugar is low or high, she’ll be able to come up and alert me by touch that my blood sugar is out of range, and then she’ll be able to respond to that as well.

“I can send her, she can go get me some lollipops or something, some kind of treatment for my low blood sugar.

“She can get help so she can find someone and bring them back to me … to the house.

“She can press to call my emergency contacts.”

“Learning Years”

Since the 1980s, ALHD has provided more than 650 guide dogs to the hearing impaired.

A Lions employee stands wearing glasses
David Horn of The Lions says it costs about $40,000 to train a diabetic dog.(ABC News: Evelyn Manfield )

It will now work to train more diabetes alert dogs, costing about $40,000 each.

CEO David Horne said the cost was due to the time it took to fully train the guide dogs.

“It has started [at] 10 weeks … it’s a process until they’re 14 to 18 months old, it takes a while,” Mr Horne said.

Cody the puppy
Cody is studying to be a hearing and diabetes assistance dog.(ABC News: Brittany Evins)

“The first thing we need to do is teach the dogs exactly what they’re looking for.”

Mr Horne said the volunteers used their sage to train the animals.

“We can do this by exposing them to scents that we collect from volunteers who can safely give us saliva samples when they are having an episode,” Mr Horne said.

“It’s a bit of a controlled event, they collect them through cotton wool.”


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