MISSOULA — Our furry friends not only can provide us with some company and kisses but with the proper training can save our lives.
And for one Bitterroot family, a dog can mean all the difference for their little girl.
You wouldn’t know by looking at her cute curls and smiley face, but four-year-old Huntley Hellmuth has type 1 diabetes.
Huntley asked her mom on Jan. 4 if she could go to the doctor because she wasn’t feeling good.
That would be the beginning of the Hellmuth family’s worst nightmare.
“And she had IVs in her within 15 minutes," said Brynn Hellmuth, Huntley's mom. "And then we were in the ICU for four days. Super sick, fighting diabetic ketoacidosis.”
With no family history of diabetes,’ the diagnosis shook the family.
When Huntley was in the hospital, her 10-year-old brother, Bow, had one thought, "I just thought it should have been me."
It is still a learning curve for the Hellmuth's; counting carbs, poking fingers, and keeping stockpiles of sugar nearby.
“It'll just help us. Kind of ease us into this,” said Brynn. “He’ll alert us when you’re crashing because everyone is different.”
"And then he can run with me,” chimed in Huntley.
“Yes, he can," said Brynn. "He will be a very loyal companion and have her well-being at heart.”
The family is describing Saint — a diabetes alert dog — who, with a full year of training, will be able to notify Huntley of her blood sugar levels before the technology can.
“The dog can sense the hypo and hyperglycemia because it has a different odor to yours, their smell," Brynn told MTN News.
"It's undetected by humans and so the dog can definitely smell it and it could be the CGM where I've had trouble with the CGM because she's so lean," Brynn continued.
And on the harder days, Saint will be able to keep not only that smile on Huntley’s face but ease the mind of her family.
Huntley’s diabetes alert dog costs $30,000 and the Hellmuth’s are looking for help from the community.
If you are interested in helping you can donate here.