Diabetes Trained Alert Dog Assists Lilly

Lilly Zarganis can now walk to school provided Rosie is in tow. Picture: Gabrielle Jeffery
Lilly Zarganis can now walk to school provided Rosie is in tow. Picture: Gabrielle Jeffery

MAKING the grade has been a walk in the park for labradoodle Rosie.

Part of the Zarganis family, she has a special role in helping keep their daughter Lilly alive.

Lilly has childhood diabetes and requires constant care to monitor her insulin levels.

Feeling their current methods of managing Lilly’s levels were not always efficient, Mrs Zarganis did some research and came across medic alert dogs.

Mrs Zarganis discovered she could either buy a trained dog with a $10,000 price tag or she could undertake much of the training herself. She chose the latter.

That was 12 months ago.

Rosie graduated in November as an approved assistance dog during World Diabetes Awareness month.

She now has a 100 per cent accuracy rate in detecting the slightest changes in Lilly’s insulin levels.

She passed the public access testing with the same score.

Mrs Zarganis said they were still taking things one step at time.

“We had a bit of a scare the other night; Lilly’s levels dropped and she was semi-|unconscious,” she said.

“Rosie alerted us, but it’s quite hard for them to do both day and night and like us she has the occasional bad day.

“Sometimes how much you try to keep her levels in range you just can’t.

“Rosie is not here to take over our job to look after Lilly. She is another tool, a backup. But I certainly feel we have made the right decision.”

Mrs Zarganis plans to further enhance Rosie’s training.

“We will engage her with night-time training, which usually happens when a dog is around two years old,” she said

“She is 18 months at the moment.”

Mrs Zarganis said there were several warning signs that parents or guardians of children should not ignore.

“If your child has had weight loss, extreme tiredness, blurred vision, going to the toilet more frequently – especially at night – and increased thirst, take them to a doctor for testing which is fast and painless,” she said.

“It will save their life.”