In every family story, there’s a hero. Ours, surprisingly, comes with four legs, an unquenchable spirit, and a nose that might just be more accurate than medical equipment. His name? Cooper. And this British Lab, a gift from River's Edge Diabetes Alert Dogs in College Station, Texas, became our beacon shortly after a storm hit our family.
It was when my son, Riley, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. The world shifted on its axis a little. But in the midst of adjusting to this new reality, Cooper trotted into our lives. Having lived with type 1 diabetes myself, I knew the challenges my son would face. But Cooper, with his endless energy and innate alertness, eased those challenges significantly.
Riley's educational journey wasn't the conventional kind. Homeschooled by me, with Cooper steadfastly by his side, he defied norms by securing his associate degree by 17. Think college is all about late-night pizzas and last-minute cramming? For Riley, it included a tail-wagging companion sensing blood sugar changes.
Then life threw another curveball. Two years after Riley's diagnosis, his sister too joined the type 1 diabetes club at, coincidentally, age 12. Suddenly, Cooper's responsibilities tripled. He wasn't just tracking Riley; he had three of us to keep an eye, or rather, a nose on.
And what a nose! Cooper gives us a 15-30 minutes warning before blood sugars go astray. Trained to detect below 70, he took initiative (yes, dogs can do that!) and started alerting for levels above 200 too.
COVID-19 came around, reshuffling our routines. Riley's college went virtual, and Cooper’s campus escapades took a backseat. Now at 8 years, he's a homebound diabetes alert dog but with his task cut out more than ever. Given my hypoglycemic unawareness, his timely alerts have been my saving grace countless times.
In essence, Cooper isn't just a pet; he's our lifeline. Every nudge, every alert, and even his comforting presence, is a testament to the wonders that come our way, even in challenging times. Through highs and lows (pun intended), he remains our steady, always alerting, always caring, and forever our glycemic guardian.