Lundquist was diagnosed at age 16 with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, which a National Institutes of Health website defines as a lifelong disease, usually beginning in childhood, when an affected person's pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. Many people with Type 1 often are unaware their blood sugar levels are falling, thus setting the stage for their being especially vulnerable without warning to a potentially life-threatening medical condition.
Lundquist's first episode involving dangerously low blood sugar levels happened ten years ago. In a telephone interview, she said, "There have been many times, perhaps a hundred, where this has occurred since then, but not every time required the help of an ambulance. It was common I would have low blood sugar and not know it."
In 2007, Lundquist was on the telephone when her sister-in-law commented about her slow verbal responses. Her sister-in-law immediately telephoned Lundquist's husband, who rushed home to find his wife passed out from low blood sugar. He immediately called 911.
Then two years ago, by chance in public near home, she met a man with a diabetes assist dog purchased in Texas for $10,000. The well-trained dog could tell by scent when his diabetic master had low blood sugar levels and would immediately let his master know. Intrigued and hopeful, Lundquist went on the Internet and typed into a search engine, "Free diabetes service dogs in Minnesota."
She found Can Do Canines in New Hope, Minnesota. Its service area includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa, Missouri, and parts of Illinois. After an extensive screening process that included Can Do Canines evaluating Lundquist's physical needs and her ability to care for a dog, she ended up with a free diabetes assist dog that cost $28,000 to train.
"My dog Juno has been a God-send," she said. "When she smells that my blood sugar is low, she jumps up on my lap and puts her nose in my mouth. It's hard to ignore. I have trained myself to trust her. Even when I test myself and am not low, it could be my blood sugar level is dropping rapidly. Juno can sense it."
Juno can even faithfully fetch Lundquist's wireless telephone and glucose tablets.
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Daniel J. Vance is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC).