Wednesday, to warm greetings of signs, friends and family, came “Jubi,” a young, brown Labrador that will serve as a diabetic alert dog for a North Coffee toddler.
Jubilee, whose name was shortened to Jubi by the three-year-old Layla Green, daughter of Adam and Amie Green, has been taught to detect dangerous changes to the girl’s blood sugar. The pup will be taught over the coming months to retrieve the insulin pouch and eventually to call 911 if Layla’s sugar drops too low.
“It’s like training a drug dog,” said Cheri Campbell, director of training for Warren Retrievers, the Virginia-based breeders that have trained Jubi since she was eight weeks old, “present her with an odor and teach her the response you want.”
Within minutes of arriving at the Green home, Jubi alerted the family of Layla’s blood sugar.
In addition to the specialized alert training, Jubi has, and will continue, with general obedience training.
She knows basic commands like sitting, lying down, staying and potty training. The next skill to master is to greet everyone by sitting.
Jubi, being a service dog, is allowed to accompany Layla anywhere the general public is allowed access.
“[Proprietors, by federal law] are allowed to ask two questions,” Campbell advised, “is this a service dog, and what tasks does your dog perform?”
One of the challenges the family faces with a service dog is people wanting to pet Jubi when she is working.
“When the service blanket is on, she is working and that means no petting,” Campbell said.
The Greens said that one benefit to having the dog is that it will raise awareness of Layla’s condition.
Amie Green explained in an earlier email to the Times that Layla was diagnosed with type 1 juvenile diabetes on June 2 of 2012.
She said, “It is an autoimmune disorder where the pancreas no longer works, and [Layla] will be insulin dependent for the rest of her life.
“Since she is so young, she is unable to communicate how she feels to us and this makes it very hard to know if her sugar is too high or too low. She shows little to no symptoms when her sugar goes low, which is very dangerous. If her sugar gets too low, she can go unconscious and can even die.”
Amie Green said earlier that Layla would have to be woken in the night to have her blood checked. Since then Layla has been placed on an insulin pump that gives more precise doses.
Campbell said that certain dogs are better suited for specific jobs.
“We do a temperament test on every litter for those that make it for what service we think they would do. Those that don’t, go to be family pets.
“Not every dog would make a right fit to be a diabetic work dog.”
Jubi was chosen because she has the right nose combined with the right personality.
The overall process is a two-year program. Dogs begin at eight weeks, and are usually delivered at 16-weeks.
The Greens will continue to work to train. Warren trainers visit every 90-100 days to start the next phase of the program.
Amie Green said “We are super excited to have [Jubi] here – excited for Layla and for the family. We hope that this will give her a better quality of life.”
The training and breeding of a service dog is expensive.
Adam Green said that Jubi’s arrival comes just a month shy of a year of fundraising.
The non-profit arm of Warren’s Retrievers, Guardian Angels, handled the adoption.
The Greens said that the organization only charges for the breeding and training expenses, about $25,000.
“We’re contracted out to do fundraising for the non-profit organization,” Amie said.