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Seven pound Chloe is a medical alert chihuahua of Kahoka, Missouri, belonging to Shirley Boyd, who is diabetic. Because chihuahuas are long-lived, intelligent, and easily become one-person dogs who remain nearby and attentive, they are ideal medical alert dogs.

Chloe keeps Shirley alive by alerting when her blood sugar drops, before the condition reaches the critical level of coma or death. Chloe warns of pending trouble when blood sugar reaches the 40s or 50s level, well before Shirley becomes ill if it falls to the 20s or 30s, so she has plenty of time to correct the levels.

Most diabeties alert dogs bark their warning, but Chloe will pound on Shirley with her front paws and butt with her head. She won't stop until Shirley responds and acts. The only time she barks is when Shirley is not conscious, at which time she stands on Shirley's chest and barks for husband Steve or someone to help. "My husband loves her. When she has her vest off, he pets her. When it's on, she's working."

Boyd trained Chloe herself, using clothes she was wearing when her sugar levels were dangerously low. She reinforces the training everyday with 45 minutes refresher training, covering all her skills. Chloe can also fetch the phone when it rings, and can fetch pills from Shirley's purse and push them toward her with her nose.

As is all too often the case with small medical alert dogs, store and restaurant owners sometimes refuse to believe a dog is an essential part of a person's health, or else believe such dogs are are only for emotional conditions hence not really trained and so apt to misbehave.

Due to having been accosted in WalMart, Shirley Boyd entered into discussions with the national corporation and the Department of Justice, and WalMart afterward instigated an employee training program so that medical alert dogs will no longer be treated as unwelcome unless they are so ill-trained as to be noisy or threatening.

There's not much you can say good about WalMart, but this is one. They have a toll-free grievance hotline (1-800-963-8442) if any problems are encountered with any of their stores.

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