Stephanies's Heroes: Service Dogs of Virginia

By: Stephanie Satchell Email
By: Stephanie Satchell Email

July 18, 2011

A Charlottesville woman is using animals to change lives. For a decade Service Dogs of Virginia has been training and raising canines to be matched up with people with disabilities.

Peggy Law operates S.D.V. She already trains dogs to assist people with limited mobility and autism, but recently she started raising the furry friends to help those with Type I Diabetes and hypoglycemia.

“Folks can wear a glucose monitor, but it doesn't seem to catch the low blood sugar in all people. So, believe it or not, the dogs are more accurate and better than any technology that is currently available,” said Law, who founded Service Dogs of Virginia.

While some humans may have a difficult time determining their blood sugar levels with machines, these dogs are picking it up quickly, starting with a sniff. They learn how to detect the scent of low blood on clothing.

“We use that to tell the dog 'when you smell this smell, it is important for us humans,'” Law explained.

Law is also teaching the dogs to alert a person by tugging on a wrist band or a mounted device. And the canine care doesn't end there. The S.D.V. founder is even training these pups to open doors and retrieve an emergency kit filled with diabetic items.

It's a lesson that's already paying off. Some of the service dogs Law has worked with have completed the program and gone on to save lives. For that many view her as a hero.

“That's one of the parts of my job that's so valuable to me and one of the reasons I went into this work. I love working with dogs, but more importantly I feel that I'm making a difference in the world, and that matters to me,” she said.

While training nearly a dozen dogs at a time may not be the easiest job, it's one that's rewarding to Law. For every command learned and each technique they master she knows these dogs will soon be ready if and when the time comes.

Law would like to be able to train more dogs to help the state's disabled, but unfortunately Service Dogs of Virginia has outgrown its current location. So, the organization is looking for a new larger home. If you'd like to help with a donation just call 434-295-9503.

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