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Diabetes-alert dog a life-saver for boy

Union Leader Correspondent

December 10. 2013 8:57PM
Five-year-old Lucien Gautreaux of Barnstead, a Type 1 diabetic, andhis new best friend, 4-month-old Shadow, a trained diabetes alert dog. (DAN SEUFERT)

BARNSTEAD — Five-year-old Luc Gautreaux was introduced Thursday to the dog that will likely become his best friend, a 4½-month old black Labrador retriever named Shadow.

Boy and dog hit it off instantly, and Luc grew very excited as they played on the floor.

Then Luc told his grandmother, Lucinda Williams, that he was hungry. A Type-1 diabetic, Luc's family must check his blood sugar, which is generally between 75 and 220, before and after he eats.

But before Williams could get the blood sugar meter, she felt a firm paw on her leg. Shadow, a trained diabetic alert dog, had smelled an odor that diabetics emit when their sugar is high and was calling for help.

"He just told me!" she said.

Luc's sugar had gone up to 312, likely due to his excitement with the new dog. Williams quickly gave him some insulin, and Luc was back to his happy, otherwise normal self.

"This is making me emotional, I'm sorry," said his mother, Amanda Gautreaux. "That dog is going to save his life. It's a miracle."

The dog came from a dog-training company in Virginia that trains dogs for health-related needs, such as autism and post-traumatic stress syndrome, said trainer Erin Gray, who delivered the puppy to Gautreaux's home Thursday morning.

Dogs are usually trained and ready for their new families as early 7 weeks, she said, so they can apply their training to a human who will likely be their lifelong companion.

"It's a matter of scent abilities," Gray said. "Shadow's natural response is to feel the stress of his human. He feels the stress and he knows by the scent when something is wrong with him.

"When it's a good scent, he'll get happy again."

And after some insulin, Luc did get happy, and so did Shadow.

"He used to be so sick," said his mother, tearfully. "Then we got him on insulin, but we have to watch him so carefully. But now, this dog … 'happy' doesn't even begin to express the sense of relief I feel, and all this from a puppy."

Health Human Interest Barnstead

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