7-year-old with diabetes gets help from alert assistance dog - FOX 35 News Orlando

7-year-old with diabetes gets help from alert assistance dog


A little boy in Chandler has received an assistance dog that helps him monitor his type 1 diabetes.

7-year-old JJ Zupin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes less than a year ago.

Every snack he eats and every sport he plays can have a huge impact on this blood sugar levels.

"We probably do anywhere from 10 to 12 finger sticks a day and 6 to 8 insulin injections," said Allyson Zupin, JJ's mom.

Nights in the Zupin house are far from restful.

Mom Allyson and dad Joe wake up every two hours to check JJ's blood sugar.

"If he goes too low, it causes nocturnal seizures and obviously we could lose him that way, or if he goes too high, he could slip into a coma," said Allyson Zupin.

With such high stakes, the Zupin's are enlisting help from "Tank," a diabetic alert assistance dog in training.

Tank has spent the past four months with Miracle Dogs trainer, Brett Suttle.

Brett named the OH Shelter pup after watching him play with his sister.

"He would put his head down and he would push her kennel to get her out of the kennel and he was he was almost like a bulldozer," said Suttle.

Or like a tank.

When Brett heard Tank was going to a military family, he knew the Zupin's were the perfect match.

At 6-months-old, Tank's already learning basic obedience and can identify JJ's unique scent.

"When his blood levels go high or go low, he actually gives off a different scent and we are able to get the dogs to imprint on that scent and be able to alert when he is not normal," said Suttle.  

Diabetic alert assistance dogs can actually smell the changes in blood chemistry that happen with a change in blood sugar.

Tank's just starting his assistance dog training, but JJ already knows how Tank's going to help him.

"If it's high, he's going to sniff and go to mom and dad and bark, and if it's low, then he's going to paw mom or dad. If it's just okay, he's just going to leave it alone," said JJ Zupin.

JJ and his parents will teach tank the different alerts once Brett returns to OH.

It's vitally important that Tank and JJ form a really close bond with each other so that Tank knows that JJ is his new handler.

JJ will be doing everything from taking Tank on walks, to picking up after him, to even making him sit before he has his meals.

The Zupin's will train and socialize tank for the next year and a half.

After passing several tests, he'll be a fully reliable assistance dog.

JJ says he can't wait till tank can sleep in his bed and go with him to school.

"I love my dog a lot...love him so much," said JJ Zupin.

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