Jedi, who is apparently a diabetes-smelling Labrador, always looks after 7-year-old Luke, who is a Type-1 diabetic who struggles with changes in his blood sugar when he sleeps that can be completely life threatening. A week ago, Luke and his parents were sleeping and the monitor that keeps track of Luke's blood sugar levels said that everything was going fine; but it wasn't. In typical Jedi fashion, the Labrador just knew that something wasn't right - he could apparently smell that the blood sugar levels had dropped dangerously low inside his best friend's body. At first, his owners ignored him, but Jedi wouldn’t let them continue sleeping until they attended to the issue.
“Jedi jumped off the bed, then back on again, though I felt him do this I didn’t wake up,” Luke’s mom Dorrie wrote in a Facebook post that has gone completely viral since then. “Then Jedi laid on me ... I suddenly was fully awake and I knew there was an issue.” She was able to give Luke the glucose tablet that he needed and he slept safely and soundly throughout the night. He may not have been so lucky if it wasn't for his four-legged best friend.
Jedi is merely one out of hundreds of diabetes service dogs in the U.S. There are many programs that train dogs to smell dangerous levels of blood sugar patterns and link them to their owners. Dogs 4 Diabetes is a nonprofit organization that trains dogs in California, and they have matched more than 150 dogs since it's launch in 2004. There are other programs, such as Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, that have matched hundreds more, a statistic that spokespeople for both programs told HuffPost.
Common breeds for alert dogs include golden retrievers and labs, and they detect scents that humans give off during any kind of changes in blood sugar, using their amazingly keen sense of smell. Another animal that can smell diseases are rats, which are often used in Africa to help identify tuberculosis. When used correctly, rats can be more effective and a more accurate tool than even that of a machine.
There is also research being done to check the ability that dogs have to detect cancer within patients who are showing no signs of disease, otherwise. I will say though, no matter what the future holds for alert dogs, it's comforting to know that for patients all over America, like Luke, they are safer with their furry friends around.