KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Pierre Blanchard was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 6-years-old. Over the years, his condition has put him into a coma and he’s suffered numerous diabetic seizures.
Over the past year, Blanchard, 37, has received some medical help in the form of his two dogs, Lana and King. He says the dogs, which he rescued from a shelter, have helped him live an easier life with his condition. While his dogs were never officially trained, Blanchard says his dogs have an instinct for service and have been able to detect when he has a medical episode related to his diabetes.
On Dec. 15, Blanchard says he let his dogs out into the backyard of his Kyle home in the Spring Branch subdivision for no more than 10 minutes, but when he returned, his gate was wide open and his dogs were gone. He has been searching for his dogs ever since.
Since the dogs have been gone, Blanchard has already suffered four diabetic seizures. If someone has his dogs, he simply asks for them back, as his life may depend on it.
Police say the fact that his dogs have microchips will help in the search, but they have not been able to locate his dogs.
According to training agencies that specialize in service dogs for diabetics, the dogs are specially bred, socialized and trained from birth. At about 18 months they begin specialized training that helps them identify a scent obtained from a diabetic when the person’s blood sugar drops below 70.
Labrador Retrievers, for example, have more than 200 million sensors that can smell tiny chemical changes in the body—current technology on the market cannot make that detection. Once dogs learn to recognize the smell, they’re taught to alert their owner by sitting and staring or touching the person with their nose. Agencies say the full training takes up to three years and $35,000.