Labradors warn diabetics to changes in blood sugar

Family seeks $20,000 canine for young son

Special to the Herald-Guide

May 25, 2012 at 9:06 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Labradors warn diabetics to changes in blood sugar
By Mya LaGrange

Jeremiah Gerlach, 8, has been living with diabetes for the last five years, which means his mother must check his blood sugar range throughout the night to make sure his levels are normal.

But Jeremiah’s mother, Jacque, is hoping that a new, furry addition to the family will make their lives easier.

Currently, Jeremiah wears an insulin pump which does not call for a shot everyday. However, the pump does not guarantee a normal blood sugar range due to a possible kink in the catheter or misreading. So Jacque must check her son throughout the day, at midnight and at 3 a.m. to prevent Jeremiah’s blood sugar levels from rising above normal. In extreme circumstances, high levels could result in a coma.

When Jacque logged onto Facebook, where she communicates with families just like her’s sharing their experiences, she heard about a dog that could potentially make her son’s condition a lot easier to manage. Not your typical dog, the Diabetic Alert Dog can sense a change in blood sugar levels even when it is only slight.

After hearing stories about how these trained Labrador Retrievers saved their owners’ lives, Jacque was enthralled by the idea of having one to keep an eye on her son.

"The dog would be with him all night," Jacque said, describing the sense of relief that the dog would bring.

Jeremiah is more than excited to have a new friend around, and he’s even more excited for the freedom that comes along with having the dog by his side.

"Sleep-overs are a bit of a fear for us because they may eat differently," Jacque said.

To add to its amazing ability to detect a change in blood sugar, the dog would also come equipped with a phone that could be used to contact Jacque in times of emergency.

The dogs are not as common as seeing-eye dogs and many providers of the highly-trained canines only operate out of their own area. However, the Gerlachs have made a connection with Warren Retrievers based out of Virginia that provides Labrador Retrievers for everything from drug searches to therapy.

Warren Retrievers says their dogs are so talented that they are 20 minutes faster than the implanted glucose monitoring systems that Jeremiah currently wears. And because it is possible for a diabetic to sleep through their monitoring system’s alarms, Warren Retrievers says that its dogs are "persistent to the point where he or she will ‘go get’ another member of the household if the diabetic does not respond."

As they are not as commonly known as other methods or treatment, Diabetic Alert Dogs are not covered by health insurance companies. This leaves many families in need of the DAD services to fundraise in order to purchase the $20,000 dog’s keen ability to detect blood sugar levels through scent.

The family has already raised nearly half of the $20,000 they need to purchase the dog and would like to buy it by August.

The Gerlachs will host a benefit night at Ormond Plantation on June 2 at 6 p.m. There will be music, food and a silent auction.

Tickets are $10.

Also, donations are accepted at Capitol One banks under "Jeremiah’s DAD." Any businesses who would like to donate can contact Jacque Garlach at fundraisingforjeremiah@gmail.com.




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