JASPER - 12 year old Bailey Strother has been training with her Jack Russell terrier Bella for the last two years at Thistle Ridge in Jasper. She recalled the moment after a softball game six years ago that landed her in the hospital.
"And when I went to sleep, my stomach started hurting, I didn't know what was going on. I started vomiting, my mom took me to the hospital, and that's when I found out I was type one [diabetic]," Strother said.
Bailey still had a tough time monitoring her blood sugar levels, until she started diabetic training with Bella.
"The reason I have the dog is I can't tell if my sugar is high or low, and she helps to check that and lets me know when I need to check it," Strother said.
Dogs like Bella are trained to pick up the scent related to dropping blood sugar levels. Scents can be detected from a cotton swab of saliva placed in tin cans.
Wendy Hallenbeck trains with other diabetics and service dogs, but has never seen a bond developed like the one between Bailey and Bella.
"She's a 12 year old child, who is the most dedicated and strongest handler I've worked with," Hallenbeck said.
Hallenbeck knows this training can be life changing.
"Bailey can be at her softball and not have to worry about checking her blood sugar over and over again if Bella is with her. When she comes into the dugout, the dog can tell her, ‘Hey something's up’," Hallenbeck said.
Bailey is happy to have Bella by her side.
"Bella helps me with, and I enjoy working with her. It's like having your best friend with you at all times," Strother said.
As part of their special bond, Bella sleeps with Bailey at night and alerts her when her blood sugar reaches dangerous levels.
Bailey says she continues to train with Bella every day to ensure Bella does not lose her scent.
You can find similar stories to Bailey’s and learn how you can start training with a service dog here.
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