ANIMALS

Virginia dogs being bred to help save lives

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On 200 acres outside Culpeper, 85 breeding retrievers will produce 300 puppies a year for one purpose.

PHOTOS: Dogs help detect low blood sugar

PHOTOS: Dogs help detect low blood sugar 9 Photos
PHOTOS: Dogs help detect low blood sugar

The 10 week old pups will soon pack a power exceeding man and machine, alerting a diabetic 20 minutes before even a glucose monitoring system can.

One pup, Sugar, an 8-month old Warren retriever, is trained to signal when her owner -- Arlingtonian Michele Hunter -- is having a blood sugar high or low.

“She might be alerting right now so I should check if that's all right,” Hunter says.

Sugar's sense of smell is so intense that she catches Michele's dropping glucose levels just three points outside her range, staving off seizures, blackouts and ER emergencies.

Dan is the man behind the dogs. He was diagnosed with diabetes at 30, when he was perfectly fit Marine training K-9's for explosives and narcotics detection.

Warren's top trainer, Cheri Campbell, starts intensive obedience training at seven weeks. They advance to sniffing actual blood samples -- high sugar in the blood gives off a cotton candy scent. Low sugar an acetone one, like nail polish remover.

It takes hundreds of hours of work. By just 3-4 months old, they're ready for service.

The cost to breed train and deliver these pups is $40,000, with help foundation families pay half that.

Expensive, yes. But how to put a price on a puppy who delivers peace of mind.

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