BARRACKVILLE – The life of Type 1 Diabetes is all that Alex Carpenter will know.
In February, doctor’s diagnosed Alex shortly after his second birthday. While the condition is manageable, Alex is too young to maintain his own blood sugar.
“He’s so young, he doesn’t really understand he is a diabetic,” said Sara Carpenter, Alex’s mom. “He acts differently, but he doesn’t say ‘My sugar, I think, is going down mommy.’”
Sara and her husband, Jonathan Carpenter, have been taking care of Alex constantly in their Barrackville home since his diagnosis. Their outlook changed when one of Sara’s friends gave her a book about a service dog.
Now, the family is raising money to purchase a trained service dog, that is trained to alert those around Alex when his blood sugar drops to help maintain his health and safety.
“Just like they can sniff out drugs or find humans under buildings, it can actually detect if his sugar is too high or too low,” Sara Carpenter said. “It’s sole purpose will be to be with Alex and watch his sugars; our extra set of eyes, ears, nose.”
The Carpenters have so far made a down payment on getting a service dog from Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, but with a funding goal of $15,000, they are only about halfway there at the moment.
On Saturday, Alex and his family got some help from the Barrackville Volunteer Fire Department, which held a boot drive to collect money to help pay for the service dog. Firefighters said they were ready to help when they learned about Alex’s situation.
“It’s a shot in the arm for the fire department, because everything we do is after the disaster happens,” said Mike Bland, Barrackville fire chief. “This is kind of a booster for the guys to actually get to help somebody for a change beforehand.”
Sara and Jonathan have also set up the Facebook page, Alert Dog for Alex, which is collecting donations through ablegifting.com for the dog. According to Sara Carpenter, the rate that donations are coming in was a shock to them.
“We’ve only been fundraising for a month and a half,” Sara said. “We were just overwhelmed with how much help we had immediately.”
She said that Alex’s service dog will begin its training in about 14 weeks. The dog will practice with Alex’s saliva samples and train with professionals until it is ready to be delivered to the family.
“These dogs train for eight months with samples of his saliva we send out,” Sara Carpenter said. “I’m pretty sure it comes and lays on you in the night, which is great, but other than that we don’t know if it’s going to paw or lick your hands excessively.”
With other fundraisers being organized for Alex’s support dog, she said the new animal will become an integral part of Alex’s life as well as the family. Once he is school age, she said she will be confident that Alex and his dog will be prepared for the worst.
“The dog is going to go to school with him, and I feel better sending him to school,” Sara Carpenter said.
Alert Dog for Alex Bingo is an upcoming fundraiser scheduled for 4 p.m. on Nov. 10 at the Baxter Fire Department. To stay up to date with Alex’s fundraising, visit his Facebook page at Alert Dog for Alex.