Diabetes Alert Dog Stories

He can’t bark in court so Bertie the diabetic Hull barrister’s dog uses a polite paw to warn that she is in danger

By Hull Daily Mail  |  Posted: October 08, 2014

By Simon Bristow

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Bertie the goldendoodle, right, helps warn diabetic Hull barrister Joanna Golding, pictured left with Bertie outside court, if her blood sugar is too low or high

MEET Bertie, the fluffy goldendoodle, who is believed to be the first emergency dog working full-time in British courts.

At leisure, he is like any other five-month-old puppy, playing with other dogs, sniffing everything, and is quite fond of digging up plants.

But when diabetic barrister Joanna Golding slips his blue emergency coat onto his back, Bertie knows he is working and holds a great responsibility.

Bertie can smell when her blood sugar levels become dangerously high or low, and has been trained to alert her.

He faithfully accompanies her everywhere – in the car, to cinemas and restaurants, and even stands patiently outside the shower.

But because much of Mrs Golding’s working life is spent in a courtroom, his alerts must be silent. He taps her foot three times with his paw – the right paw for if her blood sugar is too low, the left if it is too high.

Speaking outside Hull Crown Court, Mrs Golding said: “He hasn’t been turned away anywhere and he’s really well-behaved for a young puppy.

“He just patted me now and I know my blood’s quite low.

“He’s better than a machine because he will do it half an hour before the machine.

“It gives me the time to get something to eat and he doesn’t run out of batteries.”

Recent BBC television interview.

Bertie is literally a life-saver and an answer to a condition Mrs Golding has lived with since she was eight.

Although he still has more training to do, Bertie has already performed the service several times, saving his owner from imminent collapse.

And just so he knows his work is appreciated, Mrs Golding has had a special pocket sewn into her robe to carry the treats she rewards him with when he signals.

It is the perfect incentive for the food-orientated Bertie, who was selected and trained by Service Dogs Europe in Ireland and cost €4950.

“They train for a year, they are very careful,” said Mrs Golding.

“It takes a long time to find the right dog.”

The barrister was given permission by Hull’s most senior judge, Jeremy Richardson QC, to bring Bertie into court. The judge is understood to have two goldendoodles as pets.

It is a relatively new breed, a mixture of retriever and poodle, noted for their faithfulness and intelligence, which makes them ideal alert dogs.

Perhaps the greatest difference Bertie has made is sparing Mrs Golding the need to have nightly blood sugar tests.

“He gives me a night’s sleep,” she said.

“Touch wood he has been very good in court so far. He had just one blip.

“There was a man being arraigned for rape and when the charge was put to him, he replied ‘Not guilty’.

“Bertie let out this big sigh. The timing was horrific. But he is not a machine”

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Allison’s Story

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