Rosie, the Mandurah medic alert dog

Lilly with Rosie the labradoodle working dog and Zoé Zarganis.
Lilly with Rosie the labradoodle working dog and Zoé Zarganis.

ONE Mandurah family have found that unless a dog is a labrador it can be hard for people to accept them as an assistance dog.

The Zarganis family want to spread a positive message about their working dog and best friend, Rosie the labradoodle.

Zoé Zarganis and her husband were devastated when their daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Lilly required constant care, so Zoé began researching other ways to help her child.

She discovered Medic Alert Dogs were being used in the US with great success for children with type 1 diabetes.

With few options in Australia for Medic Alert Dog training, Zoé took it upon herself to train a dog.

Zoé found the closest breeder was in NSW who had dogs bred for children with autism.

Rosie arrived, proving to be a blessing to the family.

“The therapy side is brilliant for Lilly and her state of mind,” Zoé said.

“From a little girl of six being told when to eat, she has her confidence back and doesn’t seem so afraid.”

Zoé got a permit to train Rosie for 12 months and began training with the help of WA Dog Training Academy’s Claire Lathouras.

“It is very intensive and made up of scent and obedience training,’’ she said.

When Lilly’s blood sugar levels change, she gives off a certain scent the dog can detect and alert the family to changes in Lilly’s levels.

“She will come up and bump me with her nose and if I don’t notice at first she will be more persistent until I do. She also indicates if it is a high or low by either raising her paw or bowing down.”

Rosie is a fast learner with a 75 per cent consistency rate after a few months of training.

Part of Rosie’s training involves visiting public places with Lilly wearing a harness making it clear she’s a working dog.

Some shops have denied Rosie entry and questioned her working dog status.

“I believe it is just because people aren’t as familiar with Medic Alert Dogs as they are with guide dogs,” Zoé said.

She would like people to know Rosie is saving Lilly and for people not to judge her.

Lilly is also supported by dad Lexi, brother Logan and her grandparents