Diabetes-sniffing dog, Jedi, saves 7-year-old young master, Luke

He’s trained to fetch a short stick used by service dogs as an alert, to bow when Luke’s sugar levels are low and to raise a paw when the levels are high.

Dog able to detect rises and falls in blood-sugar levels

The Nuttall family adopted Jedi when Luke was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of two. (Saving Luke/Facebook)

Luke Nuttall, a seven-year-old Los Angeles boy, has the force of Jedi — his diabetes-sniffing service dog — with him.

Last week, when everyone in his house was fast asleep, Luke's blood sugar dropped.

The persistent pup was able to sniff the change in Luke's blood and woke up Luke's mother, Dorrie Nuttall. He kept alerting her by bowing — a gesture he uses to indicate low blood-sugar levels. He raises his paw to indicate higher levels, Nuttall told CNN

Dorrie tested Luke's blood and saw that his levels were falling fast despite his continuous glucose monitor showing he was OK. 

She gave Luke a glucose tablet, then posted a photo of monitor's screen along with an alert Jedi. 

'This is a picture of a Jedi saving his boy'

Her Facebook page and website are focused on spreading awareness and describing what living with Type 1 diabetes is like for Luke. The post quickly became popular on social media with over 180,000 shares and close to 400 reactions.

Many Twitter users began spreading Nuttall's message, too.

Nuttall adopted Jedi when Luke was diagnosed at the age of two. She worked with a local company who offered help in training the puppy. Now, Jedi knows how to alert anyone at home when Luke's blood sugar levels go up or down. 

Jedi's powers

A dog's sense of smell is more powerful than a human's by a factor of between 10,000 and 100,000, James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, told PBS.

Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher, compared the difference between the power of a dog's nose and a human's in her book Inside of a Dog. She explains that while humans might notice that sugar has been added in a cup of coffee, a dog is able sense a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water — that's about two Olympic-sized pools.

Jedi and Luke have a very close bond, Nuttall said. "When he looks back at his childhood, he may remember the shots and finger pricks, but I also want him to remember the puppy parties." (Saving Luke/Facebook)

In some cases, Jedi is up to 10 minutes faster than Luke's monitor in noticing blood-sugar changes.

When Jedi is right, he's rewarded with treats, toys and food. Nuttall wrote on Facebook that Jedi is still just a "living, breathing creature," and can make mistakes, so the family confirms every one of Jedi's alerts by pricking Luke's finger and testing the blood.

"[Jedi] saves Luke from lots of the crummy feelings and health issues ... but Jedi's job goes beyond alerting. He also saves Luke from being alone, from being scared; he is his constant companion," Nuttall said. 


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