Luke, who’s 7 years old, has type 1 diabetes, which means his body cannot properly control his blood sugar levels. To keep within a normal range, he requires frequent monitoring.
That’s because he has a lifesaving ally always near his side — his dog, Jedi.
His mother, Dorrie Nuttall, said receiving that diagnosis was when everything changed for them.
“The doctor told us what we needed to do to take care of him,” she told The Dodo. “We started researching everything that we could find to help him. We got him all the equipment to monitor him, but we wanted something to help us even more.”
That’s when they started researching diabetes detection dogs.
After some initial trouble, Dorrie found a local group that helps people train dogs to help diabetes patients — by literally sniffing when when blood sugar levels have gone too high or too low, so that medicine can be administered in time.
They connected Luke with Jedi, a friendly puppy whose role in his life would soon be immeasurable.
Training Jedi to become a diabetes detection dog was no easy task, but the puppy proved to be quite capable of learning when Luke needs attention.
“When his blood sugar is low or high, Jedi alerts me,” Dorrie said. “Then we check Luke, and depending on what we see, we reward Jedi. He loves alerting, because that mean he gets food and treats.”
The extent to which Jedi helps Luke stay in good health is hard to understate. Though he has other monitoring equipment keeping track of his blood sugar levels, the dog’s keen senses are often the first to detect a problem. And he’s happy to do it.
“He alerts us six to eight times a day,” said Dorrie. “Jedi keeps him safe. He’s invaluable to us. We put a lot of work into him. He’s very good at his job. He loves his job.”
Jedi’s ability to help keep Luke’s body in good health is only one of his important roles. The other is simply being there for a child who, because of the disease, has to endure more discomfort than most.
For Jedi’s companionship, there is no substitute.
“Luke has had 8,000 shots and 40,000 finger pricks since he was 2,” said Dorrie.
“Jedi comforts him. He makes life more fun. He’s the world’s goofiest dog. He’s the greatest service dog, but he makes us laugh all day. He’s truly a member of our family.”