How a puppy could save a boy's life

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by GEOFF LEO / CNN

kens5.com

Posted on March 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

A young diabetes patient in Canada has something new to help him manage his disease.

Kaeghan and his mom, Pam Rice, have been counting down the days for months, and finally the big moment has arrived -- Keeva.

"I think it's almost like having another baby come into the family," Rice said. "I feel that excited. I feel like I already love her."

Keeva is a 16-week-old black lab. She's a new companion for Kaeghan, and his mom hopes a life-saver too.

"Knowing that even when we're not there, she will be able to be there to protect him and to do what needs to be done in the situation," Rice said. "That makes us feel so much better."

Keeva is a diabetes alert dog. She's trained to recognize when blood sugar levels go high or low. Her trainer says dogs are incredibly sensitive to the smell of sugar. He says humans can smell a teaspoon of sugar in a glass of tea.

"If you take that same spoonful of sugar, and put it in an Olympic size swimming pool with the people, the chlorine and everything else -- the dog will still smell it," said James Faulkner, the dog's trainer.

Eventually Keeva will be able to smell changes in Kaeghan's blood sugar and alert him or his parents.

"That would relieve so much stress and worry from our lives," Rice said. "We wake up three or four times a night just to check Kaeghan's blood sugar, so this will help minimize that."

Keeva will also eventually be taught to go get juice from the fridge, if Kaeghan's blood sugar drops dangerously low. In extreme causes, she'll be able to dial 911 using a special phone pad.

"If there's nobody else, then they hit that pad and that pad either connects to EMS, a central dispatch or it can actually be programmed to a parent's phone number or somebody else's number," Faulkner said.

It will take a while to get to that point as Keeva and Kaeghan get to know each other.

"It's going to take her a little while to get used to how you smell," Rice explained to Kaeghan.

Rice said initially she was almost scared away from the program by the $19,000 price tag, but now she's a believer.

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