GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kent County family is raising money to help pay for a teen’s diabetes service dog.
Katie Krampitz, 15, received her new dog Rue this week, and the diabetic alert dog was immediately on the job.
Dogs can sense the dangerous changes in blood sugar levels, which diabetes causes, long before a person feels the difference.
“She has been alerting on an average of about 30 minutes before my meter will even tell me,” Katie said. “So she’s been doing really good with catching it before it’s out of control.”
Katie and her family got Rue through Virginia-based nonprofit Warren Retrievers, which sent a trainer to teach Katie how to work with the dog.
“It’s all based on scent. It’s all through their nose,” trainer Erin Coulter explained. “Dogs have a much better sense of smell than people can even imagine.”
With a sense of smell some 10,000 times better than a human, dogs are being used more often to alert people to a number of health threats that they detect with their noses.
And they can take action to help someone having a medical attack. Rue is trained to paw Katie when she smells high blood sugar and nudge her if it’s too low. The idea is to help Katie keep her blood sugar at safe levels.
“She will eventually be trained to open the fridge door and get a juice box or go retrieve my kit or, if I get the right kind of device, she can call 911 if I’m unconscious,” Katie said.
“We actually have a family member that’s helping to maintain the health of our kid and that’s just fascinating to me,” her father Ed Krampitz said.
But it’s also expensive. Rue is costing the Krampitz family $25,000. They are hosting fundraisers to help raise some of the money.
“It’s really important. I’ve had diabetes for 12 years and it’s been rough,” Katie said. “To finally have something that’s going to make it all easier is really great. And who doesn’t want a little puppy? That just makes it so much better.”