Tidewater K9 trains labradoodles (a mix between a Labrador retriever and a poodle) and goldendoodles (a mix between a golden retriever and a poodle). It takes 12 to 18 months to train a diabetic alert dog, Smith said.
Most diabetic alert dogs are trained through a process called imprinting, Smith said. Puppies are introduced to the scent of lower blood sugar when they are just two days old while they feed with their mother. Introducing the puppies to the distinctive scent during feeding creates a strong attraction to the scent, Smith said.
A dog learning to recognize the scent of low blood sugar then alerting someone is one of the three components in training diabetic alert dogs. The other two methods are basic obedience and public access, which socializes the dog to be familiar with different sounds, footings, and vibrations, Smith said.
When a diabetic's blood sugar fluctuates, they get shaky and sweaty, Smith said. But diabetics who are Hypoglycemic Unaware do not get those feelings, Smith said, which is why diabetic alert dogs are even more helpful.
"The dogs are fitting a niche for these people who can't feel their [blood sugar level] lows and their highs. These dogs can recognize it and say hey it's time to check your blood sugar," Smith said.
Owning a diabetic alert dog is another tool in Rylyn's life to keep her safe, her mother said. Rylyn already carries a continuous glucose monitor, but it can have a delayed reaction, Bielinski said.
"The continuous monitors don't actually sample blood so they are usually 15 to 30 minutes behind what the meter tells me my blood sugar is. The dog knows what's going on ahead of the meter and certainly ahead of the continuous monitors," Smith said. "These dogs are on the clock 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they're constantly monitoring the diabetic's blood sugar."
Rylyn's goldendoodle will complete training between the month of November and Christmas, Smith said. Until then, the Scott Depot resident is focusing on raising money for the $20,000 service dog.
Rylyn's parents have sold appliances, Bielinski is making and selling hair bows and one young friend even set up a free lemonade stand with all of her donations going toward Rylyn's diabetic alert dog. The Bielinskis have raised $5,000 so far.
The family's next fundraiser is Friday at Waves of Fun in Hurricane. From 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., guests can pay a $5 admission that will go toward paying for Rylyn's diabetic alert dog.
"I just sold a brand new stainless steel oven and that money is getting sent directly to Tidewater K9," Bielinski said. "It's worth it. Whatever gets her the dog."
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.