SHEBOYGAN — Five-month-old, Shadow, will soon be Sophie Schmitt's new diabetic alert dog. The puppy will need two years of public access training, including scent work.
Once fully trained, she will be able to alert the 10-year-old from Sheboygan, a Type 1 Diabetic, when her blood sugar starts getting to a dangerous level.
"The scent work is actually pretty basic. We're doing saliva vials that we're giving to the trainer and she's teaching low alerts first," said Becky, Sophie's mom.
Shadow will learn how to put her paw on Sophie when Sophie's blood sugar starts to get low and she will nudge Sophie if her blood sugar is too high.
For now, the English black lab needs basic puppy training, which Sophie is handling like a pro.
"Shadow, down!" Sophie tells Shadow.
"She listens when I call her unless there's bacon in the kitchen," Sophie said.
"The service dog work is going to be right around $20,000 for two years," Becky said.
To pay for that, the family has a GoFundMe page and Sophie is back in the kitchen making more of the home-made dog treats she sold last year. Yes, Sophie has raised money for a service dog before.
Before COVID-19 hit, she spent months raising $20,000 for Jacoby.
Sophie thought Jacoby, a cream-colored lab, would be her diabetic alert dog.
Last Spring, at the start of the pandemic, she and her mom picked up Jacoby from Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers or SDWR, a nonprofit in Virginia.
Becky and Sophie say Jacoby wasn't potty trained and didn't know basic puppy skills.
"Why not try to train Jacoby? What was the process behind 'let's get a new dog here?'" The I-Team's Kristin Byrne asked Becky.
"Well, Jacoby is almost four years old and we don't know her past," Becky said.
"A lot of skittish behavior and a lot of anxiety," she said.
"Socially, she doesn't fit the profile to be a service dog," she continued. The Schmitt family kept Jacoby as a family pet instead.
Back in November, the I-Team heard from families with similar stories in different states. They had special needs children and claim they raised more than $20,000 and either received an untrained dog from SDWR or never got a service dog from the company.
Virginia's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against SDWR and over the summer, the company filed for bankruptcy.
The personal attorney for the company's president told the I-Team he did nothing wrong and didn't scam anyone.
Shadow has been a good distraction for Becky and Sophie and has provided comfort while everything works itself out in the court system.
Sophie will be working with a new trainer and Becky says this time around the result will be different.
"She's not going to take our funds if Shadow doesn't become a diabetic alert dog," said Becky.