Posted 3 months ago
By Lucy Bryant
Korey is a clever boy and a master at his job. He’s been trained from a pup by his owner Samantha to head-butt her leg when her blood sugar levels are too high or low. He receives some of his favourite treats once he alerts her – one of them being cheese.
Samantha is 28 and has had Type 1 diabetes since she was four years old. She has found it more difficult to deal with the older she gets.
“The older I get the harder it gets for me to manage and I was having really bad lows, especially during the night when I’m sleeping,” said the kindergarten teacher from the Bay Area, California, who currently lives in Germany.
“We had some nights where my boyfriend had to shake me awake and pour sugar in my throat.”
Korey as a puppy with Samantha (Image: Samantha Stocking)
Samantha decided to look into getting a service dog to help detect when her blood sugar was too low or high. She adopted the almost-two-year-old Korey when he was two months old and has since been training him to alert her when her blood sugar is off.
“When it’s low he’ll boop me and when it’s high he’ll twist in a circle,” she said.
To train Korey, Samantha uses a T-shirt that she’s worn when her blood sugar was low and hides it under her top. Once Korey catches the scent, he’ll come up to Samantha and tap her leg to let her know her blood sugar is low, before going to fetch her a bottle of juice.
She also does scent training for high alerts, but with a shirt she wore when she was having a high. Once Korey catches the scent he will come up to her and spin in circles to alert her.
“He’s pretty good at letting me know most of the time before it’s going to one extreme or the other, which is helping to make it much better,” Samantha said.
Korey has got so good at his job, he can even alert Samantha when she’s asleep.
“He’s gotten really good and he alerts me the most during night,” she said. “He’s fantastic at waking me up. He’ll stare at me and he’ll start licking my face and then he’ll show me if it’s high or low.”
Though Korey is a master at his job now, Samantha said it has to be reinforced consistently with training.
“It’s consistently practising it every day,” she said. “The start of training is always easier, but as time goes on we have to stay on top of things so that he is alert.”
Samantha has since started an organisation to help other people with diabetes, called Korey the Kanine.
“My passion is dogs and I’ve always wanted to help people with diabetes, but I didn’t know how,” she said. “Now that I have Korey all the pieces are falling into place.”