Meet Jedi, the Dog That Watches Over Type-1 Diabetic Child Every Night While His Family Sleeps
In the middle of the night, most children are afraid of the boogeyman or the monster under the bed, but this 7-year old's fear that his blood sugar will rise or fall too rapidly is very real for the entire family.
Luke Nuttall was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes when he was 2 years old.
Since then, his mom, Dorrie Nuttall, has been in charge of checking his blood sugar levels 8-10 times a day. That includes during hours when most people would be fast asleep.
"I haven't slept a full night in years," Nuttall laughed in an interview with InsideEdition.com.
When Luke was diagnosed, she recalled, he had not shown any outward signs. Nuttall said that she took him to the doctor when he had been drinking much more than an average 2-year-old. After a full work-up, the doctor found nothing, until Nuttall reminded the doctor that Luke was extremely thirsty. The doctor then administered Luke's first of many finger pricks.
"I had to go to the hospital immediately, and I remember crying as I was carrying a baby out of the pediatrician's office, not knowing what that meant," Nuttall told IE.com. "Talk about life changing."
But thankfully, months after his diagnosis, Jedi the diabetic alert dog joined the Nuttall family. He monitors Luke's blood sugar level by smell, and alerts other members of the family when it becomes too high or too low.
Nuttall told IE.com that Jedi alerts the family 6-8 times daily.
While his help has been a relief for the entire family, Jedi's alerts are especially needed throughout the night, when the entire family is asleep.
Jedi often sleeps beside Nuttall and her husband, and knows to wake either of them immediately when he smells a sudden dropping or rising of Luke's blood sugar.
On one particular night, Jedi jumped on and off the bed in an attempt to wake Nuttall, who was fast asleep.
She rolled over and glanced at Luke's Dexcom device, used to monitor his blood glucose levels without a finger prick. She saw that it reported his glucose level at 100, a stable number, and tried to go back to sleep.
This was when Jedi began insisting she wake up, Nuttalll wrote in a blog post. Jedi ignored her efforts to push him off the bed, and Nuttall awoke immediately, knowing something was wrong.
Luckily, Luke had been sleeping next to his parents that night. Nuttall pricked his finger and saw a more accurate reading of 57, considered within a low range.
Dorrie Nuttall measures Luke's blood glucose level as he sleeps. (Courtesy of Saving Luke)
"By Jedi's behavior, I guarantee he was dropping fast," Nuttall wrote.
She told InsideEdition.com that while an average person's blood sugar can be anywhere between 80-120, Luke's can range anywhere between 40 and 400, and he does not show any outward signs until he reaches below 20.
"At 20, he'll just fall to the ground and cry," Nuttall said, "or he'll say, 'I can't feel my body,' or 'I don't know what's happening.'"
Nuttall clarified that while Luke's blood sugar level of 57 is no real cause of concern, Jedi has prevented Luke's blood sugar from reaching dangerous levels time and time again.
Since he was an 11-month-old puppy, the Nuttall family had been training Jedi to recognize Luke's change in blood sugar. The chemical composition in Luke's blood changes depending on his blood glucose level, and Jedi can then smell changes from as far as across a playground.
If Luke's blood levels become too low, Jedi brings the blood sugar checking device to Nuttall and bows. If it is too high, Jedi will bring the device to Nuttall and wave.
"My goal is that when Luke remembers his childhood, he's going to remember that he's always had Jedi with him," Nuttall said. "These two are best friends, and they have so much fun together."
Besides just monitoring his blood sugar, Nuttall said that Jedi can make Luke laugh almost instantaneously, even when he is crying.
Even though Jedi has been a full member of the family since Nuttall adopted him from the Canine Hope for Diabetics in California, he had not been without work. With the help of the service dog provider, the family trained Jedi for more than nine months before Jedi was able to begin alerting the family. Nuttall also warns other parents that many companies will also try to scam families looking for service dogs.
"One day, [Luke] is going to have to do all of those things for himself," Nuttall said. "As a parent, I pray there's something better by the time he's a young adult. He [shouldn't] have to go out into the world thinking, 'Do I have enough food?'"
For now, Nuttall is the one making sure Luke is always prepared, but she can't always be available at his beck and call. She is also the mother of a 6-month-old infant, and just returned to work full-time at Pasadena Community College.
When she is away from Luke, she wears a Nightscout, a watch designed by other parents of Type-1 Diabetic children that allows her to monitor his blood sugar levels from afar.
She also communicates with Luke's school nurse 2-6 times a day to discuss meals and blood sugar levels.
Nuttall also said her two other sons, 14 and 12, have been a great help in testing Luke's blood sugar and giving him shots of insulin whenever she was unable to herself.