Golfers raise funds to help give diabetic alert dog to Houston boy

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Living with Type 1 diabetes is a daily challenge for anyone struggling with the disease. But for a child, the whole family is affected.

While there have been advancements in monitoring technologies, they're never foolproof. That's why some patients have started to rely on diabetic alert dogs. A 12-year-old Houston boy is receiving a new companion at no cost thanks to the generosity of some golfers.

Luke Goodwin has been living with type 1 diabetes for about four years now. When he started presenting symptoms, his mother Mary took action.

"We went to the drugstore the next day and bought some Ketone strips and sure enough, he was positive," Mary Goodwin said.

For Luke, it's all about watching his diet and monitoring levels.

"Before my blood sugar dropped to 34 and I was shaking all over," Luke said.

So they explored the idea of getting a diabetic alert dog. The pups are trained to pick up on scents when the patient develops hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels.

Wendy Palmer with Thistle Ridge has been training Ember, a 2-year-old lab, to become familiar with Luke's scent. During a low-level episode, Luke's saliva was collected, and in turn, Palmer used that to train Ember.

"They'll hit the patient with their paw, and then if they don't respond, they just get more and more aggressive with it," Palmer said.

Now thanks to the generosity of golfers, Luke and his family were chosen as this year's recipient for a diabetic alert dog.

Jon Cheverere was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was just 9 years old. It wasn't until a few years ago when he got his alert dog, Maggie.

"She alerts me probably about five times a day," Chevere said.

They're the inspiration behind Maggie's Open, a golf tournament developed by Network Cabling Services five years ago. Each year, they raise money to provide a diabetic alert dog for a child in need.

"One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the service dog into the family of the child," Lane Lussier with Maggie's Open said.

While the alert dog is not meant to replace Luke's other monitoring tools, Ember can be relied on as a backup if something else fails.

"I can go to my friend's house and bring her with me. And if I'm sleeping, she can wake me and I can treat my blood sugar" Luke said.

Network Cabling Services is already accepting applications for next years' service dog. You can apply here.

Learn more about diabetic alert dogs here.

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