Monica Morrison has a passion. She wants to help people with diabetes.
She knows the struggles individuals with diabetes face because she has juvenile diabetes herself. Morrison has founded Sugar Sniffers, an organization that provides service animals known as diabetic alert dogs. These dogs alert a person with diabetes when their blood sugar gets too low or too high. The dogs are trained to paw the person if they notice a blood sugar problem. They will nudge your belly or jump on you.
“I have a service dog named Copper and my dog helps me,” said Morrison. “My family is not around much and Copper will alert me if my blood sugar gets too low. He is actually a rescue dog.”
Morrison did a lot of research and worked with a trainer so that Copper would become and effective diabetic alert dog. During her work, Morrison discovered that a typical service dog costs as much as $30,000. Most people don’t have that kind of money. “I want to provide these dogs at a lower cost, about $2,000,” she said. “I would help a person find the proper dog from a shelter. I would then start training the dog to respond when a person’s blood sugar is too high or too low.”
After Morrison goes with the individual and pick up the service dog and help with basic training. She will teach the dog scent training. “If you are diabetic , you would have to use your saliva with low blood sugar so the dog has a sample to work with. We put the saliva on a cotton ball and let the dog learn to sense the smell of the saliva from the person the dog will help. Once the dog learns the scent, we teach the dog how to alert the person who is having a problem.”
The dog can be trained to do whatever alert type is effective. A dog can be trained to paw you or nudge you with their nose. “I want to help others purchase a service dog so it will help save a life. If there is nobody around that understands diabetes, the dog is there to help you before you get into a bad situation. I want to have cost effective service dogs,” she said.
Now Morrison is working with friends. She has received some support from people she knows. She wants to educate more people about the importance and value of diabetic alert dogs and is working all over Florida.