Plenty of children will tell you their dog is their best friend, but Angel isnâ??t just nine-year-old Emma Louiseâ??s best friend, the black Labrador Retriever is also Emmaâ??s guardian angel.
In 2011, Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Since then, her family has struggled to keep her constantly fluctuating blood sugar levels in check.
â??She doesnâ??t go to many birthday parties or parties at school. If thereâ??s cake she canâ??t have it or has to bring it home,â?? explained Emmaâ??s mother, Kelly Badgely. â??She canâ??t even do play dates unless I come alongâ?¦but having Angel is piece of mind.â??
Angel is a two-year-old diabetic alert dog. Since joining the family in 2012, Emmaâ??s life has changed dramatically.
â??Itâ??s like Iâ??m a normal kid when Angelâ??s around because if I have [abnormal blood sugar levels] I may not know and Angel will bark or nudge me to tell me,â?? said Emma.
Three years after her diagnosis, Emma is still learning how to tell when her blood sugar has risen or dropped to dangerous levels. Thanks to her keen sense of smell and rigorous training, Angel will let Emma know and can signal for help.
Angel arrived in 2012 as a puppy and has grown and trained alongside Emma. Every 90 days Angel receives a service training visit from the non-profit organization that bred her.
Angel learns different alert techniques to signal when Emmaâ??s blood sugar is too high (paw up) or too low (a nudge with her nose). Sheâ??s also learned to retrieve juice for Emma if her blood sugar is dangerously low, will be able to dial 9-1-1 on a special alert phone once her training is complete and has even been able to indicate an abnormal level to Badgely when Emma is at school more than a mile away.
Though the non-profit provides fundraising assistance to families to help offset the hefty $19,000 price tag of service dogs, a series of unfortunate events at the start of the year have made it a struggle for Badgely and Emmaâ??s father, Allen Louise, to keep up with their fundraising efforts and, ultimately, their payment plan. Because the family fell behind, Angelâ??s service training has been suspended.
Badgely worries about what will happen if they canâ??t meet their repayment date in September. With her fundraising goal in sight, sheâ??s relying on the kindness of strangers for help.