A four-legged lifesaver: Meet Wrenn the Diabetic Alert Dog

Posted at 6:22 AM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 08:02:26-04

Imagine going to sleep at night and not knowing if you'll wake up safely.  That's the reality Allison Schukraft, who lives with Type1 Diabetes, has had for years.  Allison constantly tests her blood sugar and uses an insulin pump, but her sugar can still reach dangerous levels quickly.

"My blood sugar can bounce from 40 to 400.  Which is an extremely scary range," the Cheektowaga woman explained.

The scariest time may be when she goes to sleep at night.  If her blood sugar drops too low, Allison risks slipping into a coma.  

"There's been a couple mornings that I've woken up for whatever reason in my shower - and it's the middle of the night, and I have no idea how I got there," she explained.

So Allison realized she needed a new line of defense.  It's come in the form of a four-legged friend, Wrenn.

Wrenn is a Diabetic Alert Dog, and is trained to smell the changes in Allison's blood sugar, and alert her when it reaches dangerous levels, so she can take action.  He was trained by Diabetic Alert Dogs in Las Vegas, and the trainers used cotton balls that Allison put in her mouth when her sugar reached dangerous levels to familiarize him with her scent.  That way he could recognize when she's in danger.

"When I'm sound asleep, and I don't feel those symptoms changing, he puts a paw on me," she said.  "And if I sleep through it, he starts jumping up on my bed.  He's telling me you're starting to smell funny, you're in danger, you need to wake up."

"We all know with alarm clocks they're very easily snoozed.  Very easily forgotten about, turned off, not paid attention to," explained Edwin Peeples, from Diabetic Alert Dogs of America.  "But when you have a 50 pound animal jumping on your chest at 2:00 in the morning, you tend to have to get up!"

Wrenn alerts Allison when her sugar is too low or too high, so she can make the adjustments she needs.  She says he's become a lifesaver.

"Knowing that I can go asleep at night, and I don't have to worry about not waking up.  Having him to be able to alert me at night, to say hey you need to wake up - that's huge.  To sleep for the first time really soundly in a very, very long time," she said."

Diabetic Service Dogs aren't cheap, and Allison's health insurance didn't cover any part of Wrenn's $15,000 price tag.  Her family held a fundraiser to help her, and she's also got a Go Fund Me Page here.

To learn more about Diabetic Alert Dogs of America click here.

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