A diabetic alert dog named Jedi may have saved the life of a sleeping seven-year-old boy after the black Labrador alerted its owners that the child’s blood sugar levels dropped to dangerously low levels in the middle of the night.
Luke Nuttall was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was two-years-old, and his blood sugar levels need to be monitored around the clock. To help keep tabs on Luke’s levels, the Nuttall family acquired a dog trained to monitor blood sugar through smell.
On Thursday, in the dead of night, when Luke’s mother Dorrie was fast asleep, the child’s levels dropped.
“No alarms were going off, no one was checking blood, no one was thinking about diabetes, and it’s in those moments when our guards are down, when we are just living life, when we let our minds drift from diabetes, that it has the upper hand-and things can get scary very fast…,” Dorrie wrote in a Facebook post which has since gone viral. “But thankfully we have a Jedi.”
Dorrie explained that Jedi jumped on and off her bed in an attempt to wake the sleeping mother. Barely awake, Dorrie said she told the dog to stand down as Luke’s glucose monitor said his blood level was steady at 100.
“So I told Jedi we would watch and see, he bowed again (Bowing is his low alert), I told him to get up on the bed, he held his ground didn’t budge, he refused,” Dorrie wrote. “Then I knew he meant business and the sleepy fog started to wear off and I began to think clearer.”
Luke’s mother pricked his finger and discovered his levels were at 57, “and by Jedi’s behavior I guarantee he was dropping fast.”
Dorrie explained that Luke has never woken up on his own for a low blood sugar level in over four years, so the family has to monitor the child throughout the night.
That’s why we check his blood sugar overnight, every night, and we have every tool, every monitor, and have spent every day of the last 3 years training Jedi to alert to highs and lows, because Type 1 diabetes is relentless and we need as much help as we can get,” Dorrie said.
As Dogs 4 Diabetics points out, the dogs are trained to use their sensitive scent capabilities to identify changes in blood chemistry that happens during changes in blood sugar levels, usually lower than 70.
Dorrie told CBS News that Jedi started his training as a diabetic alert dog when he was just an 11-week-old puppy. Nearly five years later, the 70lb dog is able to detect warning signs of low and high blood sugar levels.
“They love each other,” Dorrie told CBS. “I can’t explain their connection; it’s very strong and very beautiful.”
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, there are more than 10 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes and about five to 10 per cent are living with Type 1.