detecting arson and diabetes

**UPDATE**  Click here to watch the video and read the story from the interview.

Weird title, huh?  You probably didn’t think those two things go together…but guess what, those are two amazing things that dogs can be trained to do.  And that is exactly what my dad does/is doing.

Daddy has four dogs.  Two of them are arson dogs, which means they are trained to sniff out accelerants and can be used at fire scenes to determine if an accelerant was used (indicating arson) and pinpoint the exact location of the accelerant.  The other two dogs are currently being trained to detect diabetes, specifically in children.  Currently dogs are being used as companion dogs for children with diabetes – they alert the child if their blood sugar is high or low, alert the parent(s) of the child, being them the correct snack, and can even know to press a button to call 911 if the child is unresponsive (PLEASE watch the video at the end of this post!).  What Daddy is doing is taking that same idea and training his dogs not to be companion dogs, but to be able to do into any setting (mostly schools), interact with children, and then “alert” if a child has high or low blood sugar.  The parent of the child could then be notified that they might want to have their child tested – much like the eye exams that many of us took in elementary school.

On Monday, News Channel 2 (WKRN Nashville) interviewed Daddy and a friend of his, Chuck, about the dogs and what they are doing (the interview is scheduled to air February 6 so if you are in the middle TN area you should try to watch!  hopefully they will also put it on their website and if so I’ll put a link up later).  The interview was in Franklin, KY so I got to go meet up with them and help out.  Here are some pictures (and more information about the dogs)

We first went to the Franklin fire hall where Todd (the reporter from Channel 2) interviewed Daddy and then interviewed Chuck (Chuck works in insurance and uses Daddy and the dogs to help him determine if fires are a result of arson or not)

After the interview, we got out the real stars of the show (the dogs :)) and Todd taped them

getting the dogs out (Daddy in the light blue sweater, Chuck in navy, and Todd with the camera and headphones)

the dogs are trained to stay in the truck until they are signaled to get out

in the front from left to right: Mac (British lab – diabetes), Boone (British lab – arson), Zane (British lab – diabetes)

in the back: Cooper (Doberman – arson)

There was a field behind the fire hall where Daddy showed how Boone works.  Boone works “off leash”, which means when they go to a fire scene Daddy lets him off his leash and Boone does his own thing searching until he finds something (this is unusual, most dogs work on leash and the trainer has to walk around with them while they search – that’s how Cooper works).  Daddy put out a sample of some accelerant in the field while Boone was still in the truck.  Then he left Boone loose to find the scent – which he did.

He also used Mac to show how Mac and Zane are being trained to alert on someone if they have high or low blood sugar.  They are trained to tap a person’s knee if they alert on their scent.  The person might not know what that meant but the trainer would know.

Then we went to a house that had recently burned to show a little more about how the arson dogs (Cooper and Boone) work

Cooper sniffing for accelerants

Dogs, like children, have different things that motivate them.  Boone likes to work for his yellow ball so when he finds something his reward is to get to play with his ball.  Cooper likes cheese so her reward for finding something is a piece of cheese.

going after his ball

Todd had these cool harness things that he put on Boone and Cooper – they film from the dog’s perspective so you get to see what they see when they are searching.

Cooper with the harness on

Todd filming a teaser/preview to use before the story

So February 6 (I think that’s right) you should tune in to Channel 2 (WKRN) if you get it and watch the interview.  I’m really excited about it!

One more thing, you HAVE to watch this video.  It’s about a little girl named Faith and her diabetes companion dog, Wuby.  It really drives home the amazing way that these dogs can save the lives of children.

Feel free to leave comments and ask questions – if I don’t know the answer I’ll get Daddy to answer.



  1. Elizabeth Riley and Jackson says:

    Fabulous!!!! Thank you for sharing this! The video made me cry! I am so proud of your daddy!!

  2. That is a great story. The video (click on last photo) is a tear jerker!

  3. My 6YO has diabetes and I’ve heard of these dogs. That is a most fabulous thing your father is doing! Even though we don’t have a dog trained to sniff out blood sugar anomalies, I am glad that such a thing exists. It helps give peace of mind to families dealing with diabetes and can even save lives. So tell him thank you from me!

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