pain medicine

Apr
10

A Boy and His Dog

By

casey

For the past ten months, eight-year-old Casey has had a new four-legged playmate and cuddle buddy named Beamer. Beamer isn’t a small dog by any means, but Casey’s mom, Courtney, doesn’t have any complaints. After all, Beamer is more than just her son’s best friend, he is a diabetes alert dog with the mission to help Casey stay healthy.

Casey has Type 1 diabetes, a chronic illness caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. People living with the disease must maintain stable blood sugar levels to avoid low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia) blood sugar events before they become dangerous. People living with diabetes depend on insulin therapy and other treatments to manage their condition.

Raising a child with diabetes can be challenging, to say the least. However, Casey’s family sought new ways to help manage the condition. His mom reached out to a company that trains and supplies service dogs to patients in need. Despite the costly $25,000 price tag, the family set out on a mission to purchase a service dog for Casey. They began a recycling drive by collecting cans and bottles from their community. For an entire summer, Casey hand delivered the recyclables collected and cashed them in himself. As word got out about their story, supporters started making donations. In the end, as a result of the family’s hard work and the community’s backing, they were able to make the full payment.

Beamer, their Labrador Retriever, joined the family the following May, and that’s when the fun really started. The company that provided Casey with Beamer, organized a trip to Disney for patients and their service animals. This trip helped with the adjustment phase of transitioning Beamer in to the family, which can sometimes be tough, but nothing bonds a pair like sharing a seat on the tea-cup ride at one of the most beloved theme parks in the world. Beamer joined Casey and their new friends on “the best Disney trip ever.”

Companionship is only one benefit of having a diabetes alert dog. Courtney shares that Beamer’s presence can indeed be comforting during late nights when she checks Casey’s blood sugar. Beamer’s real skill lies in noticing Casey’s lows and highs, especially during times when they are not expecting his levels to be imbalanced. Such a fail-safe can be a huge blessing to the minds and hearts of parents raising children with diabetes.

As for her advice to parents considering alert dogs for their own children, Courtney says that service dogs are a wonderful addition to the family, but they can also mean a lot of extra work. It’s important to make sure the child is on board with the extra tasks that come along with their new companion and helper.

Is a diabetes alert dog the right fit for your family? Talk to your physician and your child and spend the necessary time processing the decision. Service animals aren’t for everyone, but those willing to put in the time and work required will find themselves with an amazing new member of the family.

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