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When you think of rescue dogs, you might be forgiven for picturing large and powerful animals. However, appearance can be deceptive.
Molly, an adorable Australian Silky Terrier, looks like anything but a mighty rescuer. Despite this, Molly has been performing a very serious job as a service dog for two girls at their school in Ainslie for more than a year.
If Adrienne Cottell hadn’t decided to adopt a Silky after randomly meeting a breeder in Brisbane, she would never have discovered that a dog like Molly could possess a special skill – namely the ability to raise the alert about adverse changes in blood sugar levels in humans.
Adrienne’s two daughters, eight-year-old identical twins Hannah and Olivia, had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a few years ago. They both have an unstable level of glucose and Hannah is also a ‘hypo-unaware’. She cannot detect when her blood sugar is going low and, therefore, her life could be in a great danger if it varies significantly.
“One night at 4am Molly was crying, squealing and pacing back and forth. I followed Molly to Hannah and found out that her BGL (blood glucose level) was high. I put a new insulin line, but Molly continued to cry. I tested Hannah’s ketones and they were extremely high. Hannah had a virus and was deteriorating – she started vomiting from the ketones and I called an ambulance. If Molly hadn’t of woken me up, Hannah might have been unconscious by the morning,” says Adrienne.
Adrienne’s life used to be full of fear for her little daughters, as they needed to be monitored twenty-four hours a day and Molly’s presence has brought both blessing and relief to the family.
“Molly is absolutely adored – she is treated like another family member. Olivia and Hannah take Molly to school with them every day. When the girls are sad or anxious, they go and give her a cuddle and she makes them feel better,” says Adrienne.
Naturally, before Molly was allowed to be an assistance dog, she had to pass a lot of public training requirements. According to Adrienne, Molly was refused training by PAWS for Diabetes Inc. and by several other groups. Adrienne, however, had become determined to train her daughters’ rescuer.
“Molly was trained as a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) and anxiety dog through the Diabetic Alert Dog University in America,” explains Adrienne. “With great help from ‘Dogs on the Run’ I trained Molly for Public Access. She is incredibly smart and only took five months to get ready for her Public Access Test (PAT).”
For the family, the little Silky is a miracle. Molly breaking ground as the first DAD Dog to be registered to children, the first assistance dog to go to school and school camp in the ACT and the first assistance dog to belong to twins.
“Her diabetes training is based on scent training and positive rewarding,” explains Adrienne. “Molly gets rewarded for finding the hypoglycemic scent with treats and praise. We play a lot of games with her. People often don’t believe she is an assistance dog because she doesn’t exactly look like one, [although] I am reluctant to tell everyone with diabetes to rush out and get a Silky. They are bred to protect their owners – Molly is a one dog security team.”
Molly has become well known in Canberra as an Assistance Dog and has even inspired others. Ainslie School would like to get their own ‘mind dog’, based on Molly’s outstanding performance and success in her role. Molly also has a page dedicated to her in the PAWS by Blackmores book, where all dog lovers can find her incredible story.
Anyone who is interested in following Molly’s journey can also send her a friend request on Facebook at Molly on Facebook.