Special Assignment

Diabetic alert dog is finally home with his new family

CREATED Mar. 29, 2013

  • Print
  • Video by wtmj.com

    video

BROOKFIELD - 12-year-old Nathan hatch and his dog Sunny look like any boy and his dog.

"They're so loyal and they'll never leave your side," Nathan exclaims.

Sunny is trained to keep Nathan alive! His mom Cynthia explains, "This is changing our life. I feel so blessed, to be able to give this to Nathan."

Three years ago Nathan was diagnosed with Addison's disease and Type-1 Diabetes. It's a combination that can be deadly if his blood sugar levels aren't constantly monitored.
His mom Cynthia first shared their heart-breaking story with TODAY'S TMJ4 in October.

"Dave and I check him, 2-3 times a night, because you know... we worry, that when we go in the morning.. we won't be able to bring him back," Cynthia says, holding back tears.

Thanks to some generous donations, the family was able to purchase Sunny, a golden retriever/irish setter mix who is trained to sense blood sugar levels. He then paws at Nathan so he can check his levels, and make the proper corrections before it gets to the point where it's serious.

Ed Peeples is with the National Institute For Diabetic Alert Dogs, or NIDAD, which based in Las Vegas. He trained Sunny for six months, and is now training the family on how to use Sunny properly.

"This is an important process, is the home lessons, what we call it," Peeples explains.

Peeples also teaches Nathan how to continue Sunny's scent training.

They also took Sunny to school to get Nathan's classmates acquainted. Robyn Martino is Nathan's principal at Wisconsin Hills Middle School. She says, "We're just training Nathan in our school environment, so he knows how to manage Sunny during the school day."

It's not all work! Nathan and Sunny are becoming fast friends, and believe it or not, Sunny loves the Wisconsin weather!

"Sunny loves snow," Nathan beams.

Even though Sunny will constantly be at Nathan's side, he gives the young man more freedom than he's known for years.

"Especially as he gets older and entering his teen years, that's really important, so I have a lot of hope for the future, for Nathan's future," Cynthia says.

Sunny may be trained to protect Nathan, but Nathan's ready to make sure Sunny is always safe as well.

"I'd give my life for Sunny," Nathan says.

Nathan still has to undergo expensive treatments, and his diabetes will be a lifelong battle. If you'd like to learn more about Nathan, or how to help, here's a link to his blog.