GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The beginning of the school year was different for Northern Guilford High School student Harry Hulse.
Not only was he starting 10th grade, but his classmates would now see him with a service dog.
“They were a bit confused at first,” Hulse said.
Harry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2010 and has hypoglycemia unawareness — he doesn’t receive the typical warning symptoms, such as sweatiness or shakiness, letting him know his blood sugar is low.
That’s why his diabetic alert dog “Taffy” has been critical for helping him manage his diabetes.
The Hulse family received Taffy in August through Diabetic Alert Dogs of America located in Las Vegas.
“Taffy is trained to detect Harry`s blood sugar anytime Harry is under 80 or over 150 and he’s trained to walk up to Harry and paw,” David Hulse, Harry’s Father, said.
For Taffy to do his job effectively, it requires being near Harry at all times, even at school.
“Yesterday, I was in the classroom and my blood sugar was really low, like about to faint low, and he told me,” Hulse said.
Before Taffy was a part of the Hulse family, Harry would typically test his blood sugar up to 15 times a day, but found the glucose meter not just uncomfortable, but painful.
Although Taffy has only been with the family since August, they are seeing impressive results.
“Everything is just so easy, my blood sugar has gone down and I feel great,” Hulse said.
“We think already that it’s had an effect on his A1C. It has not been measured yet, but his blood sugar has been under control, whereas typically he would be high-low,” David Hulse, said.
Harry’s mother, Nikki Hulse, says the results have given her peace of mind. She is now more relaxed about Harry managing his diabetes rather than texting him reminders throughout the day.
A trainer worked with the family to teach Taffy commands and put him on a work/rest routine.
The Hulse family says it also wanted to invest in a diabetic alert dog to ensure that Harry would be prepared once he is away from home for college.