A 7-year-old Type 1 diabetic boy called Luke Nuttall has a best friend who’s always ready to save his life. Jedi, a Labrador trained to sniff the boy’s life-threatening blood sugar changes, alerts Luke’s parents each time he senses trouble. The dog has been with him for three and a half years and last week the boy’s mom shared a nighttime incident where Jedi literally lived up to his name.
Luke and his parents went to bed after checking the monitor that tracks Luke’s blood sugar levels. The device said everything was under control. As she was fast asleep, Dorrie, the boy’s mother, felt Jedi jumping off the bed and then back on again, but she didn’t wake up. Then the dog laid on top of her and she suddenly was fully awake and realized there was something wrong.
Dorrie looked at the monitor and it still said the boy was fine, but she pricked his finger and read 57, which means his glucose was definitely low. Jedi’s behavior indicated that Luke’s blood sugar levels were dropping fast but the little boy was still asleep, showing no symptoms.
She could get her son the glucose he needed and he slept safely through the night thanks to the immediate alert of his furry best friend.
Type 1 diabetes affects 3 million Americans and there’s no cure for the disease. Luke was diagnosed when he was two years old and his pancreas stopped producing insulin, which helps the body absorb energy from food.
As a consequence, the glucose in his body can all of a sudden fall low or spike high. These changes, which happen between five to eight times a day, are particularly dangerous when the boy is asleep, but luckily Jedi can smell them.
Jedi is a real-life guardian
Luke’s parents wake him up three times each night and rely on Jedi for the alerts, which usually come before his monitor’s. The Labrador is one of the hundreds of diabetes service dogs in the United States.
As Luke breathes, the dog smells the change in chemical composition and grabs a short stick called bringsel. Jedi brings it to whoever is home as an alert that something in wrong and is even trained to wave a paw if the boy’s blood sugar is high and to bow if it’s low.
Dorrie said she and her husband confirm every alert by pricking Luke’s finger and checking his blood sugar levels. She explained that they reward Jedi with a “puppy party” every time an alert is confirmed and Luke is given treatment. The hero dog gets treat, food and time with his favorite toy.