When Sadie’s parents brought a puppy home, they knew he would help them keep their daughter safe, and they gave him a name suitable for the job: Hero.
Sadie was born with Down’s syndrome–and her parents were prepared to love and support their daughter unconditionally. That didn’t change when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three months later. But the two conditions made it additionally challenging for her parents to detect their daughters fluctuating blood sugar levels. That’s when they decided to bring a puppy into their home.
Hero is Sadie’s friend but his primary role is to keep her safe.
Hero is a trained diabetic alert dog. He uses his excellent sense of smell to detect changes in Sadie’s blood sugar levels through an odor that the body gives off when those chemical changes take place.
The white lovable lab will alert Sadie’s parents when her blood sugar level drops below 100 and rise above 200 by pawing her mother’s left hand for low, and right hand for high.
“I’ll hold out my hands and say, what is it? and he’ll paw my left hand for a low, and he’ll nose my right hand for a high,” said Sadie’s mother Michelle Brooks.
The loyal pup has been incredibly helpful to Sadie’s parents, but one day back in December 2015, Hero far exceeded their expectations when he saved their daughter’s life when they least expected it.
Hero started acting the way he does when Sadie’s blood sugar levels are dropping—but this time, she wasn’t anywhere near him.
Sadie and Hero weren’t anywhere near each other when he started behaving the way he would when her blood levels are dropping. She was in her special needs class at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, while he was at home in Pleasant Grove—more than five miles away. Hero tried to warn Sadie’s mother, Michelle.
“He’s normally a very quiet dog. Whining is not in his protocol. But he just started whining and he would not stop,” Michelle told KUTV.
She thought it was odd but contacted the school anyway to check up on her daughter.
“[Sadie’s mom] called me and asked if I could check her numbers and they were fine,” Sadie’s teacher, Ms. Stoneman told KUTV. But a short time later, her blood level had dropped from 122 to 82. She added, “I tested her and it was fine. Then within half an hour she went down.”
It was dangerously low for then 4-year-old Sadie.
Her mother said, “[With] lows, she could go into a diabetic coma right away, and she could die, if we kept her low too long.”
Their bond is absolutely precious.
Sadie’s principal, Caroline Knadler, who also has Type 1 diabetes, was in disbelief at Hero’s abilities.
“I’ll be honest, it kinda blew my mind,” she said. Knadler had seen Hero in action before, during a parent-teacher meeting, but they were sitting right next to each other then—this time they were five miles apart.
“How can it be based on smell? It really got me thinking. What is Hero alerting on?” she told KUTV.
Hero’s trainer, KC Owens, said Labrador’s have an amazing sense of smell and can pick up a scent up to two miles away—but agreed that five miles is pretty unbelievable.
Owens told KUTV, “I can’t explain it. It’s a God thing. I think it’s like mother’s intuition. These dogs have abilities and senses beyond our understanding.”
Michelle says that people shouldn’t think all dogs have this ability though, and even those that do seem to be able to pick up on changes over long distances might not do it every time.
“While we can’t and won’t even try to explain how this happens, we feel blessed,” Michelle wrote in a Facebook post. “Even without the long distance alerts, he is amazing!”