By: Leah Uko
OMAHA (KPTM) – A local dog handler is training dogs how to sniff out narcotics, guns, cell phones and blood sugar levels. This is a skill many companies offer, but not at a price as low as his.
"Dogs can smell for anything," Russ Dillon said. "It's a fun game for them, it's really easy for them to do. And it's a good way to kind of keep their minds sharp and, you know, give them a job basically."
Dillon is the owner of "Dillon's Dog Training" in Omaha. He said he started his business two-years ago and has worked with 400-500 families since. He took on the task of training Diabetic dogs 9-months ago.
Traci Theisen and her partner Colleen Heaton were his first clients. Theisen has had Type 1 Diabetes for more than 30 years. She said her 15-month-old golden retriever Finley is a lifesaver.
Theisen said she could "two occasions where I'd woken up and paramedics had been in the bedroom. Not realizing that my blood pressure had just dropped without me even knowing it."
The couple said they hired Dillon for $400-$500 to help guarantee that Finley prevents Theisen from slipping into a Diabetic coma ever again.
"And I'd say she's about 75 percent accurate."
Theisen puts her saliva onto a piece of cotton and places it in a small container. She and Heaton place several containers around the house. The saliva in some of them contains high blood sugar levels; the others contain low levels.
Theisen will take the cotton out, hold it in her hand and put her hand to Finley's nose. When Finley smells the scent of Theisen's breath she can tell her blood sugar level is unbalanced.
She alerts Theisen by bumping her nose on her hand. Theisen will then reward Finley with a treat.
"The one thing that we're looking for is consistency," Theisen said. "She's not quite as consistent as we would want her to be."
That's why Dillon stays in contact with his clients.
"Every family I work with—I can't possibly keep up with all of them. So I just—basically they're my eyes and ears."
He trains his clients how to train future dogs just in case they ever have to get new ones. While services of his kind are done across the country, other breeders can take up to a year to train a dog and charge families $20,000 to $30,000.
"They just assume the dog is going to be $20,000-$30,000. And so they just know they can't afford it. And so they just hope that they don't go into a coma in the middle of the night."
Dillon said he needs one to two months and charges around a couple of thousand dollars.
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