A diabetic boy gets a special friend to help him with his disease. YNN's Madeleine Rivera met both of them and has the story.
AVERILL PARK, N.Y. -- As a Type 1 diabetes patient, 14-year-old Isaiah Thomas carefully monitors his sugar levels every day. It's a daunting task. But now, he's getting a little help.
"It makes me feel a lot safer. A little more relaxed," said Isaiah.
That's because Isaiah now has Max, a diabetic alert dog. Max hails from the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs. They're a special group of animals that can smell high and low blood sugars. The dog then alerts the patient if his or her sugar gets low, a warning that may prevent someone from going into a diabetic shock or coma.
"My testing can only do so much. Now that he's here with me, he's definitely going to help me out a lot more since he can sense it a half hour before a meter can," said Isaiah.
These dogs typically go through a four to six month training program. It's a three step program that involves obedience, public service and scent training. It's the same training program that FBI drug dogs go through.
"Absolutely. It's accurate. Statistically, it's about 80 percent accurate right now and in some cases, it's better than meters," said Edwin Peebles, president of the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs.
"Like most families, we're two income families and a lot of times, Isaiah's by himself. It's that peace of mind that's not 100 percent, but it's reassuring," said Isaiah's father, Keith Martin.
Despite his unique skill, Isaiah showed us that Max is still very much just man's best friend.
"I'd be able to throw the ball with him outside, be able to run around with him. I'm just going to really enjoy that," said Isaiah.
Isaiah is the first person in the Capital Region to get a diabetic alert dog from the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs. Max will be able to go with Isaiah wherever he goes.