Buddy, left, is a certified Diabetes Alert Dog. He will be assisting ninth grader Mason Mayeda, right, manage his Type 1 Diabetes.
Hawaii Baptist Academy has added a new, furry member to its ohana. On May 23, the school welcomed Buddy, a Diabetic Alert Dog, to the high school campus. He is assisting ninth grader Mason Mayeda, who has Diabetes Type 1.
Buddy, who is a golden retriever and poodle mix, has been specifically trained to react to changes in Mason's blood sugar levels by smelling his breath or perspiration. When a change occurs, Buddy alerts Mason by pawing at him. There is no cure for Diabetes Type 1. Those who suffer from the disease are dependent upon insulin for their entire lives. Edwin Peeples, a trainer for Diabetic Alert Dogs, says dogs can detect changes in the body 30 minutes faster than a machine. The early warning may prevent a visit to the hospital, and even save Mason's life.
Buddy cost the Mayeda's $15,000, and he was not covered by insurance. But for the Mayedas, it's a great investment that provides invaluable peace of mind.
"I wake up around 1:30 or 2 o'clock in the morning to take [Mason's] blood sugar levels to make sure he'll make it through the night. Now Buddy's there so we can lean on Buddy," John Mayeda, Mason's father, said in an interview with Hawaii News Now.
The students were introduced to Buddy at a school assembly, where they learned to treat Buddy as a service animal and not as a pet. HBA is one of the first private schools on the island of Oahu to allow service dogs.
"I am very proud of HBA for allowing a service dog on campus to support Mason. We really want HBA to be place where all of our students can feel that they belong, and they are supported. This is also a great opportunity for our students to learn about the role of a service animal. It is my hope that our students will come to appreciate the tremendous assistance that service animals provide," said Marsha Hirae '72, high school principal.