Diabetic alert dog saved a young boy when monitors couldn't detect low blood sugar in time.
When Luke Nuttall was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of two, his parents knew they would have to take significant measures to keep him alive.
Type 1 diabetes is the insulin-dependent type, and means a person’s body cannot regulate blood sugar levels on its own.
Type 1 diabetes is difficult for most grown adults to manage. Luke’s parents knew that because he was just a toddler, they would need all the help they could get making sure his blood sugar levels never went fatally high or low. So, they got a diabetes assist dog.
A diabetes assist dog helps its human monitor blood sugar levels by detecting a certain scent on the breath which is present when blood sugar is too low. People generally feel pretty ill when their blood sugar is high, and do not require assistance detecting that. But low blood sugar is hard to detect until it’s too late, and can result in a diabetic coma and death if not detected in time.
The Nuttalls acquired Jedi as soon as they could, thanks to some help and donations from friends and family.
The dog and boy bonded quickly; wherever Luke went, Jedi was sure to stay close behind. As a working dog, Jedi knows his primary responsibility is to watch over Luke, and he doesn’t forget it.
When Luke was two years old his pancreas stopped producing insulin naturally, and he was subsequently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His parents knew the future would be rough for their little boy, so they enlisted the help of an adorable diabetic alert dog, Jedi.
With the help of friends' and family members' donations, the Nuttalls brought Jedi home and watched as he and Luke quickly became the best of friends. Wherever Luke went, Jedi followed behind closely – the cuddly chocolate lab knew his job and took it seriously.
But one night, things got scary. In an emotional and detailed Facebook post, Luke’s mother told the story of what happened.
She reports that Jedi began jumping on and off of her bed, waking her up. Dazed, she tried to go back to sleep, but Jedi wouldn’t let up. He was trying to get her out of bed.
When she got out of bed, Jedi bowed – his signal for “Luke’s blood sugar is too low.” But when she checked the glucose monitor, it reported 100. Luke’s blood sugar is only considered low when it dips below 70.
Once the sleepy feeling wore off, she began to think more clearly, and realized she needed to take additional action. She pricked Luke’s finger to get a sample of his blood for testing, and the blood sugar level read 57. This was way too low.
Jedi’s behavior indicated that Luke’s blood sugar was dropping fast. Though Luke’s monitor would have alerted her within the next 20 minutes, and she had an alarm set for the next hour to manually check his sugar, Jedi was doing the right thing – 20-60 additional minutes would have resulted in blood sugar levels which could have proven fatally low, given the rate at which it was dropping that night.
In 4.5 years, Luke has never been able to wake up due to low blood sugar. This is because low blood sugar makes a person sleepy. Had it not been for Jedi, and this mother’s diligent efforts, Luke would have suffered seriously low blood sugar levels that night at a huge risk.
Luke’s mom gave him a glucose tab, and took a photo while she sat waiting for it to kick in – there was nothing more she could do right then, and she took the photo to not feel so helpless and alone in that moment.
She wanted a photo of the moment Jedi saved her precious son’s life.
Luke is unlucky to be afflicted with the incurable Type 1 diabetes, but he is beyond blessed to have parents and a dog who stand guard over his health and look over his safety every minute of every day.
If you or someone you know may benefit from a Diabetic Alert dog, visit this website for information on applying for one.