The Incredible Story of Spy, the Diabetes Service Dog
In an inspiring story of human-animal bond and medical marvel, a Virginia family’s service dog named Spy played a critical role in averting a medical crisis. Shannon Boggs and her husband were alerted by their diabetes service dog, Spy, when their daughter Raelynn’s blood sugar spiked dangerously high at 338 mg/dL. As a trained diabetes service dog, Spy is capable of recognizing the scent of hypoglycemia, alerting the person with diabetes, and retrieving necessary items. Raelynn, who has Type 1 diabetes, was wearing a continuous glucose monitor on the night of the incident. However, she had just put on a new monitor that was still calibrating, and Spy’s alert was the first indication of trouble.
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How Flu Contributes to High Blood Sugar
Further complicating the situation, Raelynn was sick with the flu at the time of the incident. Illnesses like the flu can lead to increased blood sugar levels. When the body is fighting an illness, the hormones produced can cause the liver to release extra glucose, an essential fuel for body cells. For individuals with diabetes, however, the body is unable to produce or use insulin effectively to regulate this additional glucose, which can lead to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar.
The Danger of High Blood Glucose
A blood glucose level of 160 mg/dL or above is considered high. Raelynn’s blood sugar level was more than double this threshold. Long-term hyperglycemia in individuals with Type 1 diabetes can lead to serious complications, including nerve damage, kidney disease, and heart disease. Therefore, it’s critical for individuals with diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels carefully and manage them effectively.
The Unique Role of Diabetic Alert Dogs
Diabetic alert dogs like Spy can provide invaluable support to individuals with diabetes. These dogs are trained to recognize the scent of hypoglycemia, which can be a lifesaving presence for people with Type 1 diabetes. In Raelynn’s case, Spy’s alert allowed her parents to take immediate action to address her high blood sugar level, possibly averting a severe medical crisis.
The Importance of Diabetes Management
Raelynn’s story underscores the importance of comprehensive diabetes management, which includes regular blood glucose monitoring, appropriate medication, healthy eating, regular physical activity, and stress management. In addition, it highlights the unique role that diabetes service dogs can play in supporting individuals with diabetes, particularly during periods of illness or when other monitoring methods may not be fully effective. As technology continues to advance, it’s crucial not to overlook the simple, yet profound impact that animals like Spy can have on our health and well-being.