Statistics show that almost 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from diabetes. An estimated 79 million Americans are pre-diabetic, and approximately 7 million Americans with diabetes remain undiagnosed.
Nine-year-old Sean was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 6. Sean's parents, Patrick and Lisa, noticed unusual changes in his behavior, including bedwetting, increased thirst and appetite and unexplained headaches and stomachaches. Other common signs of Type 1 diabetes are sudden weight loss, fatigue and blurred vision.
"The hardest part about having diabetes is controlling my blood sugar," Sean says.
Normal blood glucose levels in a non-diabetic range from 80-120 mg/dL. In Sean's case, however, his blood sugar levels can drop to as low as 20 mg/dL and spike to as high as 850 mg/dL. Sean's mother researched online and discovered a company called Drey's Alert Dogs, which specifically raises and trains British Labradors to detect dangerously high or low blood sugar levels in their diabetic handlers.
"The dogs are especially helpful with children because a lot of times, children can't sense when their [blood] sugars are changing," explains diabetic alert dog trainer Cindy Terrell. "[The dogs] smell the chemical change, the sugar changing, within the person's body. I don't think [Sean] will have the worry of going to sleep at night, and I don't think his mom will have the worry of wondering if her child is OK."
"[Fielder] has helped a great deal," Lisa says. "Within the first hour of meeting her, she already alerted Sean. Within just a few minutes of eating a snack, his sugar had dropped and if he had gone to bed for 9 or 10 hours, it would have been a disaster."
Since acquiring Fielder, Sean has published his own children's book, aptly titled Fielder the Super Dog. To learn more about Drey's Alert Dogs, click here.
• Dog detects breast cancer
• One girl's four-legged lifeline
• Dog helps owner with peanut allergy
• How dogs can sniff out bed bugs