Service dog detects diabetic emergency

6:31 PM, Jan 2, 2014   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- There is new help for a diabetic boy.
Andrea McCarren explains the potentially lifesaving relationship between AJ and Alpha.

"Kinda of nervous at first because I didn't know what it was," says AJ Schalk, Diabetic Alert dog owner.

Over the last four years AJ Schalk has learned what to expect when his blood sugar levels fluctuate because of his type 1 diabetes.

He says, "When I'm low I use to able to feel it well , my legs would feel weak, kinda of shaky....I don't feel my highs at all but my parents know because I kinda of get an attitude, a little bit, and now I don't feel them anymore."

And not noticing these changes can be very dangerous

"If my blood sugar gets too low.....I can be hospitalized," says Schalk.

This is where AJ's new best friend, Alpha comes in. 

"He will be able to alert by smell to the highs and lows of blood and he will paw at me," said Schalk. 

His mother Kristin Schalk says, "He will be able to alert to AJ's Highs and Low, 20- 40 minutes sooner than AJ would even think to test."

And that extra time could mean stopping any potential problems. 

She says, "If we can stop those extreme highs and lows, later in AJ's life, we can decrease his chances of loss of limp, kidney, eyesight."

Helping the Schalks and Alpha on this journey is Trainer Phillip Farris and his dog Kiva. 

"I am actually with them for four days to help them with the training aspect, teaching them with the alerts are like.....everything to deal with the dog after I leave," says Phillip Farris who is with the Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers.

Alpha's training process will take two years, but for AJ, Alpha's presence has already made a difference.

"He's my protector, my guardian angel," says AJ.

Alpha cost $25,000 and through fundraising the Schalks, have raised just under $9000. If you would like to donate go to

Andrea McCarren, WUSA 9
Written by Danielle Gill

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