We've all read bumper stickers about pets saving lives, but four-year-old Jack Caffery's dog will actually be a superhero without the cape.
Or with a cape, should the Caffery's want to dress up their Diabetic Alert Dog. We won't judge.
Jack was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 3, but doesn't show symptoms when his blood sugar levels get too low or too high. That means his parents have to prick his finger up to 15 times a day and stay vigilant through the very dangerous overnight period.
"You would never know that he could (have a very low level), and he's jumping off the couch like a normal 4-year-old and he should be passed out with a level like that," Jill says, "And he just keeps going. He's so resilient, and for as long as I can I'm happy to wear the burden and be his pancreas."
Enter a Diabetic Alert Dog, a remarkably expensive but incredibly useful set of eyes, er, singular nose for the Cafferies. The dog is being trained now, getting swabbed samples of Jack's saliva when the youngster's levels are high or low as part of an 18-24 month process in indoctrinating the dog to Jack's body.
Once prepared -- and running just over $30,000 including insurance -- the dog will sleep with Jack and help Mom and Dad make interventions that could thwart organ failure, nerve damage, amputation, and any other number of Type 1 Diabetes threats.
"Having a Diabetic Alert Dog, they can detect the change up to 20 minutes before a device inside him. That can be life saving, especially in the middle of the night when things can change so quickly. It's very common for not only children but adults with type 1 diabetes to go to sleep and never wake up again."
"The dog is never going to take away from his need for insulin, or our need to check him. He wears a glucose monitor and an insulin pump. Medical devices fail, and the dog could make a mistake, too, but the dog is going to give us another safety net, a set of eyes, nose, something to keep him safe, make sure he wakes up every morning and lives a full, healthy life."
Here's the thing: Like many other kids, Jack's just pumped to get a dog! The Thomas the Tank Engine and sports loving preschooler is already thankful this holiday season.
"He's really excited," Jill said. "I picked him up from religion yesterday and they were making this turkey with what they're thankful for. One of the things he put out there is he's thankful for his dog. We don't even have a dog!"
Now through December 3rd, for every 26 Shirts Vol 5, Shirt 2 "Hausch Money" sold, a donation of up to $8 is made to the Caffery family to help offset the cost of their Diabetic Alert Dog.