After nearly a year of waiting, Nathaniel Dale and his family now have a better way to monitor the 4-year-old's Type 1 diabetes — not to mention a new best friend.
Skipper, a diabetic alert dog, was brought all the way from Las Vegas to his new home in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Tuesday.
"It's just more peace of mind," said Rhea Dale, Nathaniel's mother.
"He's so young. I find that we really encourage him to label his highs and his lows, but it's a big responsibility for a little boy."
Skipper went to work almost immediately, alerting that Nathaniel's blood sugar was high. While having the dog doesn't replace the family's responsibility to regularly check his blood sugars, it is added security.
"It just makes diabetes a bit more fun for him," Dale said.
This is the furthest Diabetic Alert Dogs of America has travelled to deliver a dog. Dale reached across the border to the private company because restrictions in Canada were too stringent.
"I do wish it was more available," Dale said.
Skipper is the fourth dog the American company has delivered to Canada, and was one of its more remote deliveries.
"To my knowledge, we're the only ones who've branched out to Canada," Edwin Peeples, of Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, said.
"We're a regular for-profit company just like Tim Hortons … For parents like this who would rather just pick up the phone and buy one, and have it brought to your house, it's available to you."
It took about a year to get the dog to Canada. It was the third dog they trained after Dale got in touch with them. Rex, the first dog the family picked, was too shy.
"They take anywhere from eight months to a year to train these dogs, and not every dog that we take into the program ends up graduating the program," Peeples said.
"Skipper's been a grade A student."
Getting Skipper was no easy feat, the family had to fundraise the $20,000 to get the dog.
Dale said she couldn't have done it without the help from individual donations, which raised about $8,000, and a large donation from Glenn's Helping Hand, a foundation based in St. John's, which covered the rest.
"I just don't know what to say, but I keep them in the loop about the whole journey," Dale said.
"They've got many years of Nathaniel with his dog," Peeples said.
"He's going to be driving a car and stuff, and he's still going to have Skipper right there by his side."