Boy’s best friend

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mar­ian Den­nis mden­nis@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mar­i­anDen­nis1 on Twit­ter

There’s no dis­put­ing that dog is man’s best friend.

That’s es­pe­cially true when your dog can alert you to med­i­cal prob­lems be­fore they be­come lifethreat­en­ing.

Marek Rine­hart is a 7-year-old boy from Ch­ester Springs who loves dirt bikes, skate­board­ing, learn­ing about U.S. mil­i­tary his­tory and has as­pi­ra­tions of be­com­ing a Marine. Marek also un­for­tu­nately has Type 1 Di­a­betes, an au­toim­mune dis­ease that comes with a va­ri­ety of other risks in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of coma, seizures and or­gan fail­ure as­so­ci­ated with Hyper­glycemia and Hy­po­glycemia.

“Up to eight times each day, and overnight, Marek must have blood taken from his fin­ger­tips and tested in a blood glu­cose me­ter,” said Victoria Rine­hart, Marek’s mother. “He gets 180 shots a month and it’s amaz­ing how well he’s done with it. He’s had to do things that most adults can’t deal with.”

Ex­er­cise, stress and ill­ness can all af­fect the lev­els of glu­cose and some­times it will change for no ap­par­ent rea­son at all, she said. Ad­di­tion­ally, the FDA al­lows for a 20-per­cent mar­gin of er­ror in the num­ber the me­ters re­port.

Hav­ing ques­tioned the re­li­a­bil­ity of the me­ters, the Rine­harts de­cided that they would go a dif­fer­ent route when it came to mon­i­tor­ing Marek’s lev­els, and they are hop­ing to raise the money to get a di­a­betic alert dog for Marek to have by his side at all times.

“The peo­ple we know say they trust the dog over a pump for re­li­a­bil­ity. In a lot of cases the dog was cor­rect over the mon­i­tor. I did a lot of re­search on­line for com­pa­nies and op­tions. You can have them trained based on your needs,” Rine­hart said.

The dogs are trained to alert own­ers to any changes, high or low, in glu­cose lev­els of the blood up to a half an hour be­fore the change be­comes dan­ger­ous. In ad­di­tion, they are also trained to alert some­one if a han­dler be­comes un­re­spon­sive and can also give the han­dler com­fort dur­ing any painful pro­ce­dures they en­dure re­lated to Type 1 Di­a­betes.

The Rine­harts are seek­ing a dog through Di­a­betic Alert Dogs of Amer­ica, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that trains dogs ex­ten­sively in iden­ti­fy­ing changes in a di­a­betic per­son’s glu­cose lev­els. The process works by iden­ti­fy­ing the spe­cific needs of each ap­pli­cant and match­ing them with a dog who is specif­i­cally trained for that pur­pose. Once the needs have been de­ter­mined and the puppy is born, it is trained al­most from birth to iden­tify blood glu­cose level changes for their spe­cific han­dler.

“His di­a­betic alert dog will be scent-im­printed to the chem­i­cal change that oc­curs in Marek’s body when he ex­pe­ri­ences Hyper­glycemia and Hy­po­glycemia,” ex­plained Rine­hart. “This is done by send­ing sam­ples of Marek’s saliva to the trainer to use with the dog. Other train­ing Marek’s di­a­betic alert dog will re­ceive is ser­vice in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive obe­di­ence train­ing and re­trieval of Marek’s med­i­ca­tion bag upon alert.”

Once the dog has been se­lected, the fam­ily re­ceives up­dates and pic­tures of the dog un­til even­tu­ally train­ing is com­plete and the trainer brings the dog to the fam­ily’s home. So far, the fam­ily has de­cided on a Weimaraner and Marek is hop­ing to name the dog Minecraft, af­ter one of his fa­vorite games.

“He’s re­ally ex­cited about it,” said Rine­hart. “He’s the old­est of his sib­lings and they want the dog to come and help him be­cause they’ve seen it and it’s scary.”

But the se­cu­rity of a specif­i­cally trained four­legged friend comes at a high cost.

Fam­i­lies seek­ing a di­a­betic alert dog can ex­pect to pay about $25,000 for it’s train­ing and in­surance, which is why the Rine­hart fam­ily has be­gun fundrais­ing.

“Any­thing that helps safe­guard my son’s life is worth any amount to me,” said Rine­hart. “I will do ev­ery­thing in my power to make sure he gets his ser­vice dog.”

In ad­di­tion to a Go-

FundMe page that the fam­ily has set up, they will also be fundrais­ing to­day at Pottstown Ad­vance Auto Parts, 12 Moser Rd.

Ad­vance Auto Parts has been sup­port­ing the Ju­ve­nile Di­a­betes Re­search Foun­da­tion, of which Marek Rine­hart and his fam­ily are mem­bers, for 23 years.

“It’s hard on Marek to have to take time away from his ac­tiv­i­ties to check his blood glu­cose lev­els, re­ceive med­i­ca­tion and ex­plain to other chil­dren and adults about the dis­ease, but he is very brave in man­ag­ing it all,” Rine­hart said.

To learn more or to do­nate visit www.go­fundme. com/mc­t1dk9.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO — RINE­HART FAM­ILY

Marek Rine­hart, 7, was di­ag­nosed with Type 1 Di­a­betes at age 6. Marek’s fam­ily is fundrais­ing so he can have a di­a­betic alert dog that will let him know when his glu­cose lev­els are reach­ing dan­ger­ous lev­els.

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