CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. - Four-year-old Jack Caffery will likely never remember life without Type 1 Diabetes. Less than a year ago, he was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease. The cause is unknown. His body just quit producing enough insulin.
"No day is the same with Jack," Jill Caffery, Jack's mom, said. "Basically he could have the same food and the same exercise three days in a row and he'll have different levels with his sugar every single time."
Jack wears two devices on his body at all times to monitor and maintain his blood sugar levels. Mom and dad track it through an app on their phone. Plus a finger prick blood test is necessary at least 15 times throughout the day.
The risk of running too low or too high can be deadly.
"Every night when we say goodnight to him, we don't know if we'll say good morning," Jill explained through tears. "The nighttime is the scariest time for Type 1's because things can change so quickly."
The Caffery's are not alone in this fear.
Jody Filonovich, a dog trainer with Dogworks Service Dogs in Rochester can attest. That's because her career is centered around training "Diabetic Alert Dogs", or DAD's, for families just like Jack's.
The dog's purpose is to be another blood sugar monitor.
"Dogs have the ability to scent that and be preemptive as well," Filonovich explained. "So as someone is trending downward, that literally is coming systemically out of their body."
These dogs in the program go through rigorous training that begins at eight weeks and spans about two years. They clock hundreds of hours of scent work on their soon-to-be owner's scent, learning to detect and alert based on smell samples from the person's saliva.
"I've had so many reports from parents that if the dog wasn't there at 4 o'clock in the morning, we would have never known there was a critical low approaching," Filonovich explained.
The dog won't be perfect but for the Caffery's, this soon-to-be family member will be a welcomed part of Jack's team.
Jack's dog will not be born until this fall. A Diabetic Alert Dog costs more than $20,000, plus insurance.
The Caffery's are holding a benefit in September to help raise money for their dog.
You can learn more information here.
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