Local woman raising funds for diabetic service dog

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Courtesy photo Brenda Erickson is raising money to purchase her own diabetic service dog.

For 50- year old Brenda Erickson, living with brittle type-1 diabetes has been a part of her life for the past 43 years.

She has been able to manage it mainly due to her ability to be aware of the symptoms that occur within her own body.

Recently that has changed though as Erickson is no longer able to feel or recognize when her body is not functioning properly.

I could be walking, talking, doing normal everyday activities and I am out before I hit the floor, Erickson said. For me, it is that I am no longer able to tell or feel when my blood glucose goes low.

According to HealthLine, brittle diabetes is a rare form of insulin-dependent diabetes and is marked by frequent and severe episodes of hypoglycemia and/or hyperglycemia (DKA).

This instability of blood sugar levels often leads to hospitalization and necessitates frequent self-monitoring of blood glucose, the use of an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitoring device (CGM).

In rare cases, a pancreas transplant may be necessary.

This potentially life-threatening issue has prompted Erickson to get a diabetic service dog to help her stay alert or even alert someone else should an emergency situation arise.

A diabetic service dog will be able to alert me 30 to 45 minutes before a low were to occur, Erickson said. It will be able to bring me items such as my glucose tester, juice, food, alert another person, and in extreme situations even dial 911 on a canine device, which could potentially save my life.

Erickson has already began raising the $25,000 needed to get her own diabetic service dog through Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR), who have nearly perfected the concept through intense scientific research.

Diabetic assistance dogs rely heavily on their ability to smell their owners blood sugar fluctuations which allows them to pick up on things such as increased A1Cs (glycated hemoglobin), as well as alerting the owner of highs and lows 20 to 45 minutes in advance.

With the high amount of training that goes into making sure that these dogs are as finely trained as possible, the $25,000 price tag would be out of the realm of reality for most people in the Silver Valley, but in true valley fashion the community has rallied to help Erickson by putting on a fundraiser in the form of a dinner and auction.

The auction will feature many items including hotel and resort stays, spa treatments, hand crafted art, and several gift certificates.

The dinner will be on Saturday, May 6, at 5 p.m. at the Kellogg Elks and is donation only.

For more information on Service Dogs Warren Retrievers visit www.sdwr.org.

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