In a first for Island Charity Ability Dogs 4 Young People, Shadow, a 22 month old female black Labrador has started working as a Diabetic Alert Ability Dog.
She is helping Libby, a 14 year old who has Type 1 Diabetes. In addition to the usual advanced training undertaken by working Ability Dogs, the charity has been working with the Paediatric Diabetes Team at St. Mary’s Hospital to understand how a Diabetic Alert Ability Dog can help. Shadow’s natural responsiveness enabled her to learn quickly and she is already detecting Libby’s changing levels and letting her know.
She alerts Libby to changing levels in her insulin, any time, day or night. During the day, she picks up Libby’s ‘kit bag’ and circles around her until she takes the required action. At night, a more vulnerable time, Shadow will be taught to push a button which will send a text to alert Libby’s mum and dad. Libby will be able to partake in more physical activities (Libby loves sport) and have the confidence to go out more, knowing that Shadow is watching over her.
Shadow helps with more than Libby though. Libby’s brother has autism, so he rarely wanted to leave the house. Having Shadow around has meant that he has wanted to join the family taking Shadow for a walk to the local park. His confidence has grown immensely too.
Libby’s mother, Kim said “Libby’s life changed 3 years ago when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She seemed to lose confidence in herself and felt different from her friends. Although she is excellent at controlling her sugar levels, there are times when hypos occur and she hasn’t realised her levels have dropped and at times she feels embarrassed and scared. Shadow is now beginning to detect the change in Libby’s levels and is alerting her so she is aware to check her sugars. Since being with Shadow, Libby’s confidence and self-esteem is growing. I would like to thank Carol and her team for matching Libby with Shadow and their help and on-going support have made such a huge difference to Libby and our family.”
Libby herself said “Shadow has already made a huge difference to my life, she has given me a lot more confidence. I never used to like going out or to my diabetes appointments but now I enjoy going out and I don’t mind going to my check-ups as I have Shadow with me. When I am older I would love to work with dogs like Shadow to help children with type 1 diabetes.
Carol Court, Founder & CEO of Ability Dogs 4 Young People said “It has been an incredible experience working with the team at St. Mary’s and seeing just how much help Shadow can provide. Libby and Shadow have grown very close and it is heartening to see that Shadow is benefiting the whole family too.”
Ability Dogs 4 Young People IoW is an Island charity which trains assistance dogs to improve the lives of physically and mentally disabled young people and children on the Isle of Wight.
If you think you can help in the shops, by fundraising or are interested in becoming a Puppy Parent please get in touch. Visit www.abilitydogs4yp.org.uk or phone 01983 216246.