Well today, I was able to see how Filly is putting this into practice! She did a tentative live alert for the very first time and when she pawed me the second time she sniffed the back of my knee prior to putting her paw on my leg. Good job Filly!
Before the alert I was sitting on the couch on my phone, Filly was on her "Place" (Kuranda cot) right in front of the couch. She was staring at me and being restless in general, but most likely that is because she is a 3.5 month old puppy who gets really bored on her place. But because she is incredibly adorable when she stares at me with those big eyes, I leaned over to pet her. As I leaned over she sniffed my breath and then placed her paw on the couch right next to my leg. Skeptically, I said "Let's check" and we walked to my room where I began to check my bg. As I was checking it, she sniffed the back of my leg, and pawed me again. The meter read 80 mg/dL. I didn't really believe it as I hadn't washed my hands before checking so I retested and the meter read 82. With two readings that low, I figured that chances that it is somewhere below 82 was pretty likely, so we had a party!
As she gains confidence I'll start to only reward her for alerts to 80 and below. But as this was the very first time alerting to a live low blood sugar, I wanted to build up her confidence and reward her for it. When dogs learn to live alert, they are typically much more tentative because they are thinking independently - a live low blood sugar is different than a sample because a live low blood sugar is 'moving' and doesn't include things like the cotton or plastic that the samples include.
This does not mean that Filly knows how to live alert, will catch them all, or really even knows what she is doing. But it means she is likely starting to put the pieces together and think independently which is fantastic! There is still a chance this was all a coincidence but even if it was, this experience taught her that when this scent is present and she puts a paw near me, AMAZING things happen! Cookies come from all over, she gets a big bone, mom is super happy, and she gets a bunch of toys! So even if it was a fluke, she learned something from it. I will see if she repeats this within the next week or two and that will show me whether this was an intentional alert or just a coincidence. If it was intentional, a first live alert at 3.5 months old is earlier than my other dogs began, and I'm really excited to see what the future holds for this girl.