Crystal Cockroft has been running Canine Hope for Diabetics for almost 5 years. She and her team train diabetic alert dogs for type one diabetics. The dogs are trained to alert high and low blood sugar. Whether their owners are asleep or awake, they can alert their owners about an increase or decrease in blood sugar. Crystal and her team have made their organization to be as community oriented as possible, so that families can all get together and feel comfortable because they all have something very important in common. They can all get together to learn and gain knowledge of other diabetics, and the diabetic alert community. They put together outings, there’s a place where families can talk to other families that are just like them. As Crystal says; “It’s just become a fun, safe place where families can get together that have something in common.”
Crystal has been involved with scent training for several years. She started out with search and rescue. The first dog she trained was for tracking people, who might have gotten lost. “It’s all scent work, it’s just different game”. Then she trained her dog and certified her as a FEMA certified Type 1 disaster dog, these dogs are used to find people that have been buried in rubble or under snow, typically people you can’t see with your own eyes. She also used to compete with hunting dogs and field trials. During that time, she had a dog that decided that she didn’t want to do that, and she had quite a bit of training. So Crystal answered an ad for somebody looking for a washed out hunting dog to be trained to be a service dog, which turned out to be a diabetic alert dog. That’s when Crystal became very interested in it and began asking a lot of questions, and getting to know more people in the diabetic alert community. At first a lot of people didn’t want to share their knowledge. Until she came across a website, put together by a 16 year old girl and started corresponding with her, asking her about what her dog did, and what would be helpful. Her mom, Rachel Thornton intervened and told her about Wildrose Kennels for diabetic alert dogs. Crystal and Rachel became good friends as Rachel helped Crystal build her foundation to training diabetic alert dogs. Crystal then purchased a dog named Halo, to train for a family that was located close to her, eventually that turned into what Crystal has today, nearly 5 years later.
For more info on Canine Hope, visit http://www.caninehopefordiabetics.org/
One of the most important things we do with these dogs is to build structure into their daily routine. An important component to that is what we call "place" training, essentially an extended stay. The dog must stay on his place with multiple distractions, dogs, kids, balls flying by, etc. And the center of all that place training is the Kuranda cot. All our dogs have at least one in their home, and when we give the command "place" they head to the Kuranda. The Kuranda cot, a leash, and treats/rewards are some of the most valuable training tools we have at our disposal.