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Jennifer's Heroes: Service Dogs Diabetic Alert Program

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

July 9, 2009

For nearly 26 years, Jamie Hedman has been living with diabetes. Growing up, Hedman says she was always aware of how low or high her blood sugar levels were, but then life got in the way.

"I had my kids. Now I'm teaching full time and there's just so much going on in my home. I have to test it [blood sugar level] very often, about 12 times a day," said Hedman.

However, Hedman's anxiety of not knowing will soon be put to rest once Opus or Gusto, two Labrador Retrievers, finished their Diabetic Alert Program training with the Service Dogs of Virginia.

"Basically the dog has to know the particular scent of a low blood sugar. We can't smell it, but we know that they can," said Peggy Law, of the Service Dogs of Virginia.

The dogs have undergone a series of training exercises in order to learn how to sniff out when Hedman's blood sugar drops, and then alert her to fix the problem.

Hedman says she is grateful for these potentially life saving dogs and those who train them. Plus, Hedman says Opus or Gusto will give her family peace of mind.

"If I'm napping, they don't have to worry that my sugar is going to get low. It will be good for them to have that security that their mommy is safe," she said.

The newly trained dogs will keep Hedman and others with a similar condition safe and constantly under a watchful eye.

"They give their all, they don't know any other way to be. The fact that I could have a dog that will literally be able to save my life, I don't know how it couldn't be a hero," said Hedman.

Believe it or not, Gusto, one of the dogs training to help people with diabetes, has a form of diabetes himself. So, Service Dogs of Virginia is looking for a sponsor to help pay for the medicine he needs. If you are interested in finding out how you can help or want more information about the Diabetic Alert Program, visit the Service Dogs of Virginia website.

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