Max Domi maintains his diabetes treatment with the help of his dog Orion, an animal that is specifically trained to provide diabetic aid.
The 2-year-old, 70-pound yellow lab is a diabetic-alert dog offering Domi comfort, confidence, and companionship.
“He’s my best buddy,” Domi, 20, said.
The door of Orion's gray crate, the one tucked behind the dinner table in the kitchen, is open, which means he is on the clock.
He approaches Domi in the living room and grabs at the bringsel, which looks like a foam roller, attached to Domi’s hip and waits for Domi to notice.
The bringsel is how Orion communicates to Domi that his blood sugar is off and, sure enough, he’s low – 4.3. A normal range would be between 4.7 and 8.
Domi rewards Orion with a peanut-butter treat and a chorus of "good boy" before he swigs a bottle of grape juice to boost his level.
“He’s right 99 percent of the time,” Domi said.
When he’s out in public, Domi wears the bringsel, but at home, it could be sitting on the coffee table or another location that Orion can easily spot. Orion will hunt it down every 15 minutes until Domi’s blood sugar has been corrected.
During the night, Orion sleeps on the floor in Domi’s bedroom — when he doesn’t hop up onto the bed — and will wake Domi when, using his keen sense of smell, he notices a shift out of range.
Since Orion is technically still working when Domi is sleeping, Domi carves out time during the day for Orion to spend in his crate to let him rest.
“He knows for sure I’m nowhere to be found,” Domi said, “and he can finally get his sleep and recover.”
Strangers will stop to compliment his cuteness, but they’re not allowed to pet him.
“He works for love,” said Domi, who anticipates having a service dog for the rest of his life. “So if he’s getting attention from anyone else, then it’s going to take his attention off me and he doesn’t do his job nearly as good.”
Fetched from azcentrtal.com