Dogs in Missouri helping save lives of pediatric diabetes patients

Dogs in Missouri helping save lives of pediatric diabetes patients

POSTED: Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 1:45pm

UPDATED: Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 1:49pm

More and more families are turning to dogs to help treat diabetic patients, especially children.

Kellen Giegerich is just 2 years old and has been battling Type 1 diabetes since he was 7 weeks old. Because of his age, his blood sugar is difficult to control.

And this terrifies his parents.

"For Kellen, he can be in a wide range and never show us any signs that he has high or low blood sugar," his mother, Angie Giegerich, said. "If it gets too low, it can cause seizures or even death, which is what we worry about, especially at night."

The answer comes in the form of Shadow and his amazing nose. Guardian Angel Service Dogs have placed the 3-month-old chocolate lab with Kellen. The pup is being trained to alert if Kellen is having a diabetic reaction.

"The diabetic will smell sweet to the dog," said Mandy Sikorsky of Guardian Angel Service Dogs. "When they (patients) go low, they have a chemical change."

Shadow's trainer delivered him to his new home on Monday.

Shadow will be trained to ring a bell or even point and bark if he notices a change in Kellen's smell. This then will alert Kellen's parents.

But Shadow with his four furry paws and cold nose will go further than that.

"They are able to push a pad on a phone with a recording that says, 'If you are getting this call, it's an emergency,'" Sikorsky said.

Because both Shadow and Kellen are so young, they will spend the next two years getting to know each other quite well. This is a big comfort to his parents.

"Knowing he will always have this constant companion with him that can go to school, that can fly on airplanes, that can go on vacation with us, that can really be with him all the time, it just puts us at ease and allows him to let him to have a normal life," his mother said.

There will be a fundraising event for Guardian Angel Service Dogs this Sunday. There will be motorcycle and poker runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Getaway on Highway 40 in Blue Springs. The money will help pay for Shadow and his training.

Guardian Angel Service Dogs is a service organization that places quality Labrador retrievers that have been bred for scent detection, especially for medical alert purposes.

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