Enid Family Uses Diabetic Alert Dog To Monitor Young Daughter

Sunday, October 27th 2013, 2:15 pm
By: News 9

An Oklahoma family adds a new family member to their home to stand guard, so to speak, and watch over their little girl.

Kaleigh Buckminster is only four years but mature beyond her years. Kaleigh was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes days after her first birthday.

"She's an amazing child," said Joy Buckminster, Kaleigh's mother. "She's taken this on like a champion."

But for Joy and her husband Taylor, the task of keeping their daughter safe by constantly checking her blood sugar levels was exhausting.

"Literally, every single night for three years, we set an alarm clock for every two hours," said Taylor.

That is, until Memphis walked through their door.

"It's just another set of eyes on her," said Joy.

Or, in Memphis' case, his nose. Memphis is a diabetic alert dog trained on scent, Kaleigh's scent. So, when the chemicals in her body change, he alerts her parents to check her blood sugar levels.

"Ever since the day he walked in, that very first night, he alerted to three lows before they even happened," Joy said. "I think he brings out a part of us that we didn't have before, because we were always scared and now we don't live with that fear anymore."

Now that the family had a handle on things at home, they worried about what would happen this year when Kaleigh started Pre-K at Chisholm Elementary School in Enid. Together, with the school, though, they came up with a solution. Memphis too, would attend Pre-K with Kaleigh. Compared with her students, Kaleigh's teacher, Sherri West, said that's okay.

"The dog is the easy part," said West. "At first, they just wanted to pet him, but after about a week, they were comfortable with him."

Memphis has settled in just fine too. But he never gets too comfortable, knowing he has an important job to do. Each time, he does it without fail, trained to do at school what he does at home: alert the teacher when Kaleigh's levels change.

West and Kaleigh's other teachers have been trained to check Kaleigh's blood sugar levels in the classroom and treat her accordingly.

"He really truly is a lifesaver," said Joy. "I thank God every day for him."

"I just love him so much," Kaleigh said.

Because Memphis is more than man's best friend, he's this little girl's guardian angel, forever known as Kaleigh's Keeper.

The Buckminster's now train other diabetic alert dogs for families just like them across the country.

Find out more about Heartland Diabetic Alert Dogs.