Jedi the Dog Helps His Little 'Master' Luke Battle Type 1 Diabetes
The force is strong with these two.
— -- The force is strong with Jedi, a 3-year-old diabetic alert dog, and his 7-year-old "master," Luke Nuttall.
Luke has been battling type 1 diabetes -- an autoimmune disease with no cure -- ever since he was diagnosed at 2 years old, according to his mother, Dorrie Nuttall, from Glendale, California.
Dorrie, 37, told ABC News that the glucose in Luke's blood can quickly spike or plummet because his pancreas cannot produce insulin.
If Luke's blood sugar gets too low, he starts to lose feeling in his hands and feet, gets dizzy, has pains in his stomach and is at risk of seizure, Dorrie said. And if his blood sugar spikes too high, it can cause damage to his vital organs, she added.
But amazingly, Jedi can smell these spikes and dips, and the black English labrador has been trained since he was a puppy to alert Dorrie to such changes in blood sugar. He brings over a brinsel -- a cloth tube -- to Dorrie and "bows" when Luke's blood sugar is too low and "waves" if it's too high, Dorrie said. (Jedi lifts his paw up or down to signal the change).
Dorrie recently shared a photo on Facebook of Jedi alerting her when Luke's blood sugar had dropped low in the middle of the night. The photo has gone viral with over 373,000 likes and over 182,000 shares as of this afternoon.
"Jedi jumped off the bed, then back on again, though I felt him do this I didn't wake up," she wrote on Facebook. "Then Jedi laid on me. I woke up...without Jedi I would have had no idea that he was dropping out of a safe range."
Though Luke has a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that sends alerts to her phone and smart watch, Jedi often alerts her faster to Luke's condition, Dorrie said.
"The CGM probably would have alerted me to the 'low' maybe 10 or 15 minutes after, but every early alert from Jedi really helps," she said. "I don't think he's necessarily better than just having the monitor, but it's definitely helpful to get that earlier alert."
Jedi has also helped out the family in other ways, Dorrie said.
"The two are the silliest two things together, and Jedi has brought so much joy and laughter," she said. "Though type 1 diabetes has certainly been a part of Luke's childhood, we want him to know it didn't ruin his or our lives and that he had Jedi -- this great dog in his life."
Dorrie added that she hopes the inseparable duo's newfound Internet fame helps bring more awareness to type 1 diabetes.
"So many people assume it's preventable, which is not the case," she said. "I often get told 'What did you feed him?' or 'Just change his diet,' and that's hard for a parent to hear."
Dorrie added that she wants more parents to be informed of the warning signs: frequent urination, increased thirst and appetite, extreme fatigue, blurry vision and weight loss.
"We knew this beautiful, little girl -- her doctor thought she had strep throat and by the time they figured out it was type 1 diabetes, she had seizures and ended up passing away," she said. "It's heartbreaking."
And though Luke is a "brave, strong boy," the 7-year-old gets frustrated once in a while and asks if his diabetes will ever go away, she said.
"I don't have an answer for him because there is no cure," Dorrie said. "There is a desperate need for more funding for research to find a cure."
Meanwhile, Dorrie said she and Luke are just grateful for Jedi.
"Amidst a disease that does everything in its power to make life so much harder, this is a picture of loyalty and love and perseverance," she wrote on Facebook. "A reminder that we will not let diabetes win, that we will never give up, and that we will always fight for our children."
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