Local girl receives life-saving companion

Kate Hanchon with her diabetic alert dog, Sprinkels. (Dave MacQueen/WCIV)

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- One Lowcountry girl with diabetes has received an amazing gifta diabetic alert dog.

Kate Hanchon met her dog Sprinkels for the first time today It is a moment the Hanchon family has been anticipating for months.

"It's a 20 thousand dollar investment to have Sprinkels here," said Tanya Hanchon, Kate's mother. "It was the support of our community, our family and friends and people giving a dollar throughout the last three months. We started out January 1st officially fundraising and on March 24th we were done with our 20 thousand dollars and since then it's just been waiting and waiting until the right dog came for this family."

Sprinkels, who is only 13 weeks old, has been trained to alert Kate and her family of Kate's fluctuations in blood sugar.

"She can smell a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic size pool, so her scent ability is incredible," said Hanchon. "She'll be able to smell whether or not Kate's blood sugar is raising or lowering depending on how Kate is doing. If your blood sugar is high you start to smell sweet. As it goes low you start to smell like vinegar. We don't smell that but the dogs can."

There are several ways that Sprinkels can alert Kate and her parents.

"Evidently she'll be able to paw us and tell us. Right now she is kind of yelping and whining and letting us know that way and then at the end of the training she'll be able to get the meter, get juice for Kate if she is going low, she'll be able to get a phone and dial 911 or an emergency number," said Hanchon.

Within the first hour, Sprinkels was already doing her job. Anne Marie Crevar, who is a family friend, was the first one to notice the warning from Sprinkels.

"Kate was on the swing, swinging, and Sprinkels went and sat below the swing and sat down and put her nose up toward Kate at which point I mentioned it to the trainer and the trainer said that was a sign that we needed to check Kate," said Anne Marie Crevar, family friend. "We did and she was on a low of 55."

And with Sprinkels by her side, Kate will be able to really be a kid again and her parents will be able to rest a little easier, especially at night.

"I know that every night someone with diabetes goes to bed, someone isn't checked and someone doesn't wake up," said Hanchon. "For us knowing that this dog can prevent thatit's really a blessing. That dog is going to save our kid's life."

Dan Warren, founder and president of Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers & Guardian Angel Service Dogs developed their Diabetic Alert Dog program several years ago. The program is dear to Mr. Warren because he too is a diabetic. For more on the program, click here.

There are weekly consultations for the families and then visits from the trainers every 90 days, which can last three to five days.

Warren says it takes 18 to 24 months to fully train a service dog.

*Editor's note: Yes, the dog's name is Sprinkels and not Sprinkles. We checked.


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