By Debby Kay ©2015 all rights reserved
Success Through Sharing was the theme for a conference on Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) training that I was pleased to host earlier this month. It was a wonderful gathering of dedicated professionals that were willing to share their insights, research results and expertise on Diabetes Alert Dogs. Just the fact that so many are so willing to share was something that is rarely seen in the dog world, but what they had to share still has me very excited about the future. We learned that there is now a published research paper on DADs that establishes the dog’s credibility. This is a huge first step in getting these dogs fully recognized as viable service dogs.
There is research underway we learned, to isolate the compounds that the dogs are actually using as markers for their alerts, another huge step forward in this field. Following the conference was 3 days of training and discussion of key points to include in your program of training to set you, the client and the dog up for success. The community in Jefferson County West Virginia was wonderful in their outreach to accommodate our group for training opportunities and likewise we were able to educate them about the work the dogs do.
I am in the process of producing an audio CD of the speaker’s presentations, which should be available soon.
With only a few days to pack from the end of that training, I was frantic to get everything in order before my next trip. On Wednesday my stud dog Ranger and I headed to Rome, Italy. We both arrived safely but I had to send him off right away to stay with my Labrador breeder friends at Wild Oak Kennels in the lush rural Marche region of Italy while I stayed behind at Rome to deliver my second workshop in Italy on DAD training. The afternoon before the workshop, my host whisked me away for a short walking tour of Rome. The city has such a rich history at times it was overwhelming to know where I was standing was a place of such great significance in modern history. I was pleased at the large turnout for the workshop on the weekend, that also included a professional trainer from Greece, hoping to start a program in his country as well. There are so many diabetics all over that are eager to learn more about the work the dogs do, but I admire the Europeans who are cautiously approaching this idea trying to learn first before making commitments. After the workshop I had small rest then headed for Naples to discuss DADs with a local TV
station program manager. There was no time to tour around this seaport town but I did manage a glimpse of Vesuvius. The panorama of Naples is something I will not soon forget. I was dropped at the train station and before long I was headed to a happy reunion with Ranger.
Ranger and I managed to squeeze in a morning of field training and couple of long walks in the mountains of the surrounding area before attending the 2-day seminar with world-renowned detection expert Dr. Adee Schoon from Holland. In addition to attending an intense 2 days of scientific lectures on scent, detection protocols and more, Adee and I were able to discuss many ideas on the topic over some very late night dinners for the three days she was there. Her work is some of the best in the field and to have many ideas and protocols I have used and am planning on implementing in the future reviewed by her was well worth the trip and extra days spent over here. We both agreed that it is only when proper scientific protocols are in place can any program be taken with any sense of credibility. It is gratifying to sit back and reflect on all the changes I have witnessed over my 4-decade career in scent detection work with dogs. Today the dogs are finally getting their due as the supreme scent detectors.
The day finally came when I was to head back home to the US. Saying good-bye to Ranger was very difficult but he seemed so happy to be with his new pack of girls and in the lush countryside of his new residence I could not be too sad. My hope is he will be able to leave behind a new generation of service and performance dogs in Italy before he returns home next year. I want to see the theme of collaboration continue into next year and beyond and hope you will join me in this effort. Take time to share with others so they may succeed at whatever they are doing with their dog; stay open to learning from others too. Wishing all of you success through this collaboration.