He slobbers down the halls and wags his tail at patients, but behind that friendly fur is a puppy on a mission! Shadow, a 15-week-old Diabetic Alert Dog (D.A.D.), arrived in Kansas City with his trainer on July 16 from Warren Retrievers in Montpelier, VA. Shadow is trained to recognize fluctuations in the blood sugar levels of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. He will “alert” or tell a family member when blood sugar is low or high.
Seven weeks after giving birth, Angie Giegerich, Trauma Manager at Centerpoint, was told her son Kellen had Type 1 Diabetes. “Kellen has been alive 730 days, 680 of those with diabetes. He has finger pokes 8-12 times per day. Roughly 7,000 total pokes in his lifetime. Every two days he has to change the location of his insulin pump site,” said Giegerich.
At only two years old, Kellen is unable to give signs of high or low blood sugar. It is impossible to tell where his levels are, causing the Giegerich family to wake every two hours in the night to check his levels. Shadow will help control this issue and allow the family to sleep better knowing he is keeping an eye on things. Shadow will eventually be able to dial 911 and will attend school with Kellen. For now, Angie is bringing Shadow to Centerpoint for environment acclimation training.
As a certified service dog, Shadow will allow Kellen to lead a more normal life. However, the life-saving skills Shadow brings to this family are not without cost. The puppy and his training come with a high price tag, an amount not covered by insurance. The family has hosted fundraisers, most recently a poker run on July 22. Funds continue to be collected to help pay for Shadow through guardianangelservicedogs.org and Kellen’s Facebook page. So if you see a “shadow” following you down the halls at Centerpoint, it’s not your imagination. Just a puppy, on a mission, training to be the best D.A.D. he can be for Kellen and the Giegerich family.
Photos: Shadow and Kellen (above) | Angie, Shadow and Kellen Giegerich (below)