Someone just commented on the blog and asked about diabetes dogs, and I want to give my thoughts on this. There are several issues.
The first is selling of dogs to assist people with medical issues. I know of no reputable organization that sells dogs to the handicapped. By reputable, I mean Seeing Eye Dogs, Guide Dogs of America and Canine Companions for Independence. There are lots of other organizations with similar goals, missions, and funding. What all of these organizations have in common, is that they are able to gain enough volunteer and monetary support to run their programs and service their users. The users of these dogs do not have an income that will warrant the purchase of such a dog.
Back when I was training K-9 police dogs, they went for $10,000 to $20,000. There are several reasons for that cost. First, training dogs is extremely labor intensive, as is training their handler. In addition, the police department is paying for future expertise as needed, both to update training AND for expert witnesses to go to court and testify in the team's behalf. If you priced out the labor to train a guide dog or other assistance dog, it would probably exceed that cost. Thus the average family would never be able to afford it. That's the reason for the volunteer and monetary support.
I've trained drug dogs, taught others to train dog dogs and certified dogs for drug detection. Here's what it takes to train a detection dog -- a repeatable circumstance that can be documented and trained for. I'm do not believe that a dog can be trained using Person's A symthoms and be reliable for Person's B sympthoms.
As a diabetic, I am not willing to be my life in the paws of other of my dogs. I have started to see that little Maggie sometimes reacts differently to me when I am low, but I think it is due to too factors: I'm searching for food, and I tend to fumble around more, so she sees it as an opportunity to get food. So here's how I feel about the situation...
If your family wants a dog, get one. If you are lucky enough that the dog is observent enough to pick up on your sympthoms use that as another sign in your environment that you need to deal with your diabetes, BUT I don't believe that you should rely on it 100%.
I also believe if your son is as poorly controlled as you say, your medical team should be using continuous monitoring and find out why your son is poorly controlled. I am not blaming you, I'm blaming your medical team. There is currently a 3-day sensor available (the precursors to the Guardian). I would also be bugging Medtronic and see if the guardian is a legimate answer for you. Frankly, I think a Guardian would be cheaper, even at its current price. Remember, you have to buy the dog, feed it and maintain its training.
Oh, and remember that maintaining the training is duplicating the exact conditions the dog needs to observe. And that's the primary reason I won't be involved in that kind of training for myself or others. I don't want to go into that condition unless I have to.