Facebook post about service dog saving boy from low blood sugar goes viral
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, March 9, 2016 6:44PM EST
Last Friday, Dorrie Nuttall was roused from her sleep by son's dog Jedi.
Jedi had jumped off her bed, jumped back on and when Nuttall didn't wake up, he laid down on top of her.
The black English Labrador is her son's service dog, who is specially trained to help monitor his Type 1 diabetes.
When seven-year-old Luke's blood sugar is high or low, Jedi alerts Nuttall so she can provide him with the proper treatment. Nuttall says Jedi, who she helped train, doesn't get "everything" but he's another "tool" that she uses to help Luke cope with the disorder.
And on March 4, Jedi bowed his head to a groggy Nuttall, indicating that Luke's blood sugar was low.
Nuttall then went to Luke's bedroom and pricked his finger for a blood-sugar test.
Sure enough, Luke's reading was 57 milligrams per deciliter, which Nuttall says can be "uncomfortable" and unhealthy, but not "dangerous."
"That was just a sudden drop that Jedi told us about that we were able to fix right away," Nuttall told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview from Los Angeles, Calif.
"When I saw the 57, I always have glucose tabs in his bag, and immediately gave him the glucose tab."
Nuttall shared the experience in Facebook post along with a photo of Luke and Jedi that has since gone viral with more than 180,000 shares. In the post, Nuttall said "this is a picture of a Jedi saving his boy."
She also shared a video of Jedi's techniques in a video on March 7.
Night alerts. (and just to clarify for people who just joined us Jedi catches dropping blood sugars before they go too low or very early on in the drop, we just call them all lows because to Jedi they are - even if it isn't technically a diabetic low - of under 70. We don't rely 100% on Jedi we have the CGM and still set alarms to check Luke over night because Jedi is a living breathing creature and can and does miss alerts as wonderful as he is he needs sleep too) Jedi jumped off the bed and started to alert (he's a big dog I always can feel him move around and jump off). I grabbed my phone to use for a flashlight and decided to turn the flash on and film what happened next. I missed the beginning of the alert but you can see him pawing the bed and yawning which is his stress signal that that something is wrong. Jedi caught this drifting down blood sugar at 72 which isn't dangerous in itself but it is low for night and Jedi knows when he's drifting lower so we can treat and watch closely - this early alert allows us to prevent as many dangerous lows as possible at night. Don't worry I immediately went to the kitchen to grab Luke a glucose tab - no Luke's or Jedi's were harmed making this video. A FEW THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE WATCHING THIS.1. Not all diabetic alert dogs alert at night. Jedi was a wonderful day alerter by the time he was one year-old but it took us until he was 18 months old with LOTS of training and LOTS of work to get him to alert at night. We still work on it and reinforce it to this day. He catches most things at night but he is a living creature that needs rest and if he's too tired he can miss and we never blame him for that. 2. Jedi's night alert includes jumping off the bed and doing whatever it takes to wake me up. He also bows for lows. 3. Luke wears a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (an absolutely wonderful tool that everybody should have with or without a dog) it will alarm if Luke goes low but it is slightly delayed so if we wait for the alarms he would be lower. 3. At night we want Jedi to alert anything under 75-80 so that we can take immediate action. 4. My phone is within a few feet of me 24 hours a day since I track Luke's blood sugar on my watch that is Bluetooth connected to my phone. My phone, his kit, all his emergency supplies are on my headboard at all times when I sleep. 5. Jedi sleeps with me since I'm the one that he has to tell there's a blood sugar issue. He can smell Luke from my room with no problem. 6. Having a dog alert at night actually means you get less sleep sometimes. You have to acknowledge, reward and confirm every alert even if you're tired and you don't want to. 7. Oh and we love Jedi. ❤️he is family. (The baby sleeps right next to me so I'm whispering and I sped up the part where I was fumbling with Luke's finger prick he was moving around a lot and as you can see I have a bandage on my thumb due to stitches which makes testing Luke a little bit harder. Hopefully you get the idea of what alerts look like. It took a LOT of work over 3.5 years to get him alerting like this)Posted by Saving Luke - Luke and Jedi - Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Together on Monday, March 7, 2016
Luke was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at two-years-old. In people living with the disorder, the pancreas produces little or no insulin, which is required to break down sugars and starches.
Just over three years ago, Nuttall brought home 11-week-old Jedi. Nuttall said it has taken three years of intensive training to perfect Jedi's techniques, but she says his help is now invaluable and he often alerts her to Luke's blood-sugar issues before other tools.
"The bond Jedi and Luke share is amazing … I really worked hard to get it where it is," she said.
"He's a living, breathing creature -- he doesn't get everything. He does miss stuff. But he alerts a lot. We get multiple alerts a day that something is happening."
Nuttall says Luke sees highs and lows every day, but can't panic, because "they're not all emergencies but they all need action to be taken."
In addition to Jedi's aid, Nuttall also sets overnight alarms, uses a glucose monitor and gives her son daily shots of insulin to help his body break down sugar.
Nuttall hopes all the attention Jedi and Luke are getting will help bring awareness to the disorder that affects between one and three million people in the U.S.
"Luke looks like a typical kid: he goes to school he plays baseball, he plays sports. You would never know that we have to monitor him 24 hours a day, that he gets eight to 10 finger pricks and gets shots every day." she said.
"It is an invisible disease. I feel like if we don't share our stories how will people ever know that we need a cure."