Joseph suffers from severe diabetes.
At the end of October, the Diabetes Alert dog, Bolt, a Labrador, will come to live with Joseph and his family.
Joseph, a 12-year-old sixth grader at Ore City Middle School, has Type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed suddenly in August 2009. He was transported to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas via ambulance, in a state of DKA.
(DKA—Diabetic Ketoacidosis—is a potentially life-threatening complication of diabetes, according to Wikipedia. Wikipedia states that “DKA rsults from a shortage of insulin; in response, the body switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies that cause most of the symptoms and complications. . . . Vomiting, dehydration, deep gasping breathing, confusion and occasionally coma are typical symptoms.” The article states that without treatment, DKA can lead to death.)
Type 1 is not like Type 2 diabetes. It cannot be controlled by diet and exercise.
Joseph’s body no longer makes insulin. He must have an insulin injection for everything he eats or drinks every day of his life, his mother, Candy Scott, said.
His body cannot regulate his blood sugar, and he experiences highs and lows which are very serious and can result in seizures, coma, organ damage and more.
In addition to his parents, Doug and Candy, he has two brothers, Jacob, 15, and Jackson, 6.
“Type 1 families are a very close community because of the common struggles that we share,” Mrs. Scott said. “It was from another Type 1 family that we learned about diabetic alert dogs.”
Bolt is coming from Brooks Labradors in Lucas. Bolt, who Joseph named for the superhero cartoon dog, began scent training and obedience training at eight weeks. Brent Brooks brought Bolt down on Friday, Sept. 14, to do some training with Bolt and Joseph at Ore City Middle School.
While there, Brent spoke to staff and students about the importance of Bolt and how he will help Joseph.
Joseph frequently misses class because he is in the nurse’s office addressing a low- or high-blood sugar problem.
Bolt will be by Joseph’s side 24 hours a day. He will go everywhere with Joseph, including school. Federal law requires that service dogs be allowed in all public places.
“We started fundraising last year with a small booth at the Ore City Harvest Festival, and it spread so quickly we were amazed,” Mrs. Scott said. “Family, friends, and the community jumped in. A local T-shirt shop started a fundraiser called Dimes for a Dog, where people gave their age in dimes (example, 40 =$4).
Their church family from First Baptist Church of Diana and friends held a “Jog for the Dog” in January, which included a walk and 5-K run. Local organizations, such as the Ore City Lions Club, American Association of Retired Persons, Ore City High School Student Council, the fourth grade class of 2011, students, teachers, businesses and strangers gave money.
“God blessed us through every step of the way. God opened doors we couldn’t even imagine,” Mrs. Scott said.
In six months, over $10,000 was raised, which paid for Bolt, who cost more than $10,000.
“It’s taken a year, but Bolt should be here next month,” Mrs Scott said. “He will be an added protection for Joseph and allow him to be more independent. Bolt will be able to detect changes, such as a drop or a sudden increase in his blood sugar, even before Joseph realizes the change.”
The dog detects changes in the core body, often 30 minutes before it registers on Jospeh’s meter that uses blood from his finger tips, she said.
Mrs. Scott said they hope Joseph and Bolt’s story will increase awareness of Diabetic Alert Service Dogs, and about the seriousness of Type 1 diabetes.
She said they are currently in contact with Kit McKinney Coward, a diabetes educator in Longview who is starting Longview Type One Diabetes Foundation, which will be a support group for Type 1 families in this area.