Dog trained to smell low blood sugar gives diabetic boy a new lease on life.
One in 400 children in the United States suffer from diabetes, and while many of them struggle with figuring out when they need their insulin, the parents of one Long Island child found the perfect solution: Hero, a diabetic alert dog, a specialized breed of Lab that can detect when a diabetic is in trouble and find help.
8-year old Johnny Pion is a laid back kid that was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 2008.
The disease is a death sentence without insulin.
His blood sugar needs constant monitoring.
He can't even go on play-dates without mom or dad fearing he might need help.
Now with Hero in her new home, Johnny's parents may worry a little less.
They found out about diabetic alert dogs at a fundraiser for diabetes.
The dogs don't come cheap.
They can cost around $20,000 and are not covered by insurance.
Through donations from friends, family and the community the Pions brought home hero.
Hero comes from Warren Retrievers in Virginia, a specialty breeder of service dogs.
Cherri Campbell is Hero's trainer.
She says these dogs can detect the slightest changes in blood sugar by their keen sense of smell.
"Humans have 5 million smell receptors, dogs have 5 billion," she explains.
When the dog detects something's wrong she'll warn johnny by nudging up against him.
If he doesn't respond Hero knows to look for mom and dad.
Eventually Hero could contact 911 in an emergency.
The hope is Johnny will feel more secure.
It seems to be working.
On their first night together Johnny was comfortable sleeping in his own bed and not with his parents.
Night time is critical because blood sugar goes unchecked while sleeping.
Now Hero stands guard.