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 explained.
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 four-legged 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 GoFundMe page that the family has set up, they will also be fundraising on Saturday Nov. 19 and Sunday Nov. 20 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.”
To learn more or to donate visit www.gofundme.com/ mct1dk9.