Dog Saves Life Of Boy With Type 1 Diabetes

A dog woke his owner, Dorrie Nuttall, up in the middle of the night by lying on top of her until she got out of bed.

The dog, a black Labrador retriever named Jedi, was alerting Dorrie to the fact that her 7-year-old son Luke was in very serious trouble.

At the age of 2, Luke was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Among the population with diabetes, only 5 percent have type 1. Nuttall told CBS News that she was unprepared for the challenges involved.

“We don’t have a single member of our family [with diabetes]. I knew nothing about it. Nothing.”

Enter Jedi, a diabetic alert dog trained by Canine Hope for Diabetes in Riverside, California. Similar to the Inquisitr’s story of Bella and George, her Great Dane service dog, these Labradors are bred specifically to become diabetic detection dogs. They are raised in homes by experienced puppy raisers, where they are socialized, undergo basic training, and exposed to all types of people and environments. The dogs, according to the group’s website, are raised for superior socialization, obedience, public access, and scent discrimination/alert.

Jedi was one of Canine Hope’s first in-house litter specially bred and imprinted to become Diabetic Alert Dogs. At just 11-weeks-old, Jedi began training for his future career. Now, at age 5, he goes everywhere Luke does.

As the site points out, Jedi, like other alert dogs, was trained in scent discrimination. It is the dog’s sense of smell that tells him when Luke’s blood sugar levels are dropping dangerously low.

Luke is equipped with a glucose monitoring system inserted under his skin to track his blood sugar levels. But Nuttall shared on Facebook that Jedi’s alerts are often ahead of the meters.

“[Jedi’s] alerts often beat the meters and he saves Luke from lots of the crummy feelings and health issues that go along with each. But Jedi’s job goes beyond alerting, he also saves Luke from being alone, from being scared; he is his constant companion.”

Nuttall decided to share Luke’s experience on her Facebook page, “Saving Luke – Luke and Jedi – Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together.” On Thursday night, Jedi alerted Nuttall and she made a video, which quickly went viral.

“Jedi jumped off the bed and started to alert (he’s a big dog I always can feel him move around and jump off). I grabbed my phone to use for a flashlight and decided to turn the flash on and film what happened next. I missed the beginning of the alert but you can see him pawing the bed and yawning which is his stress signal that that something is wrong.”

But Nuttall explains that the pressure is not entirely on Jedi to keep an eye on things.

“We don’t rely 100% on Jedi. We have the CGM and still set alarms to check Luke over night because Jedi is a living breathing creature and can and does miss alerts. As wonderful as he is he needs sleep too.”

The monitor, she said, is 20 to 30 minutes delayed.

“Jedi beats it all the time which allows us to catch lows before they go too low. At night we want Jedi to alert anything under 75 so that we can take immediate action.”

Having Jedi is like having an extra insurance policy in case things go wrong. And with diabetes, they can go wrong very quickly.

“A lot of kids die almost at diagnosis. People don’t know the warning signs.”

The American Diabetes Association lists the following common symptoms of diabetes.

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

As with most working dogs who live day-to-day with their families, Jedi’s bond goes far beyond his life-saving service.

“He is family. We love him.”

[Image via ravl/Shutterstock]