Sadie has type 1 diabetes and Down syndrome, KUTV reported. The condition makes it difficult for her parents to keep her blood sugar levels stable.
That all changed when they brought in a special Labrador named Hero.
Hero is a trained diabetic alert dog, who can smell when Sadie’s blood sugars are going too high or too low. Hero then alerts Sadie’s parents.
“I’ll hold out my hands and say, ‘What is it?’ and he’ll paw for […] my left hand for a low, and he’ll nose my right hand for a high,” Michelle, Sadie’s mom, told KUTV.
In December 2015, Hero lived up to his name.
Sadie was in class at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills while Hero was at the family’s Pleasant Grove home, more than five miles away. That’s when the dog started acting out.
“He’s normally a very quiet dog,” Michelle recalled. “Whining is not in his protocol. But he just started whining and he would not stop.”
Hero was alerting Michelle that Sadie’s blood sugars were dropping even though the child was miles away. Michelle texted Sadie’s teacher just in case.
Teacher Kimberly Stoneman remembered the text and phone call.
“[Sadie’s mom] called me and asked if I could check her numbers and they were fine,” Stoneman explained. “I tested her and it was fine. Then within half an hour she went down.”
Sadie’s numbers suddenly dropped from 122 to 82.
“The lows are more dangerous immediately,” Michelle said. “[With] lows, she could go into a diabetic coma right away, and she could die, if we kept her low too long.”
School principal Caroline Knadler, who is also diabetic, said she couldn’t believe what happened.
“I’ll be honest, it kinda blew my mind,” Knadler said, adding that she had previously been alerted by the dog of her own sugar levels dropping during a parent-teacher meeting. “We’re here and the dog is way over in Pleasant Grove. How can it be based on smell? It really got me thinking. What is Hero alerting on?”
Hero’s trainer, KC Owens, said she uses a specially bottled scent to train dogs to sniff out high and low blood sugar levels.
“They’re easy to train, they’re bred for their nose,” Owens told the news station. “These dogs can wake up a parent in the middle of the night for a low. They can go get help, and they do this well in advance of all the technology.”
Owens added that Labradors have hundred of millions of scent receptors, which allow them to smell from up to one to two miles away. She believes something else helped Hero that day.
“How do dogs know when their owners are coming home?” Owens asked. “There’s another piece of it, that I call, ‘God only knows.'”
Sadie’s dad agreed.
“I can’t explain it. It’s a God thing,” he said. “I think it’s like mother’s intuition. These dogs have abilities and senses beyond our understanding.
“That’s why we’re thankful to have Hero, he’s the one who saves her more times than not.
“I’ve always called Sadie our little angel, and I think Hero was a little angel sent into our lives to watch over her.”
The story was shared on Reddit, garnering much positive feedback.
“He acted like something was wrong, but nothing was. But later the inevitable happened. Amazing!” said Reddit user skintigh.
User Rndmkrpny said, “Dogs can smell a drop of human sweat in an Olympic-sized swimming pool filled with water. They also, unlike us, cannot simply stop smelling something with time. Even more amazingly, they can pick apart scents into different components, scenting sugars in dead leaves and mold growing on said leaves, both as one scent and apart.”