Three-year-old Faith Wilson suffers from a rare form of infant diabetes and must be constantly monitored. Diagnosed when she was only 9 months old, Faith at times has to endure as many as 25 needles a day to stay alive. "It's a very difficult disease to manage and basically it's organ failure and you have to live your life on life support," said Sarah Wilson, Faith's mother, according to ABC News affiliate KLTV. "Night times were the worst. I used to have panic attacks every night and wake up and run to her bed, holding my breath, just hoping she was alive."
Two years ago, Sarah was able to purchase a diabetic alert dog named Ruby. Thanks to the generosity of church donations and community support, she was able to purchase Ruby for $10,000. "We breed all of our dogs and they are trained at Wildrose Kennel," explains Rachel Thornton, Wildrose's service programs director. "We breed British labs. It's a very researched, very scientific breeding to produce the type of dog we're looking for. We breed for scent ability and temperament, and it yields a dog that has done very good as a diabetic alert dog."
Before a seizure that is induced by low blood sugar, a diabetic's metabolism changes. This change smells like ketosis, which is similar to nail polish remover. Because of their powerful scenting ability, diabetic alert dogs are trained to act when the odor occurs, and will either bark an alarm or begin licking their owner.
When Faith is home, every bite of food and every sip she drinks is carefully measured. Faith is also on a pump which makes life a bit easier, but there are still struggles. "She doesn't have any symptoms for me to pick up upon, which is where Ruby comes into play for us because she can communicate to me what Faith can't," says Sarah.
Ruby has been with Faith for two years and has saved the little girl's life more times than the family can even count. Sarah says that now that the family has Ruby, the entire family's quality of life has changed. "I can't imagine our life without Ruby," says Sarah. "I know if it weren't for Ruby, I would have already buried my child. So I don't even want to think about life without Ruby."