Student Hopes To Make Service Dogs More Accessible For Those With Disabilities

Julia Nicholas Duprey, a college student, relies on a special canine during her day-to-day life. Duprey was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at six years old. She also has hydrocephalus, which leads to excess cerebrospinal fluid in her brain. She had several brain surgeries as a kid, and she has had to rely on a blood sugar monitor. Yet, the monitor doesn’t warn her of irregular blood sugar levels as efficiently as she’d hoped.

So, after raising lots of money, Duprey finally has a diabetic alert dog, who can sense when Duprey’s blood sugar levels aren’t right. This incredible canine’s sense of smell can save her human’s life daily.

Student with her service dog

Meet Pretzel!

Duprey’s body only produces low amounts of insulin, which is why it’s hard for her body to control blood sugar levels. Her family always knew a service dog would make her life easier, but getting one is complicated. Diabetic alert dogs are usually $5,000 to $10,000. There was also a two-year waiting list for one.

But to Duprey’s surprise, many kind strangers were willing to help. After setting up a GoFundMe, she quickly gained enough funds to afford a service dog. Soon, a beautiful Golden Retriever named Pretzel became her best friend and life-saver.

Pretzel the diabetic alert dog

“In addition to her being like my lifeline, she is also like a built-in best friend and companion. She sleeps on my bed every night, she actually sleeps with me and my cat which is the cutest thing ever,” said Duprey.

Pretzel is trained to detect Duprey’s blood sugar levels based on her scent. A sweet, fruity scent might mean that her levels are too high while sweaty smells could mean they’re too low. Pretzel can alert Duprey of these changes before her blood sugar monitor can.

Woman walking diabetic alert dog

Service Dogs Change Lives

Duprey got Pretzel from CARES, a company that trains service dogs. The day the pup joined her, she was overjoyed and emotional. Duprey hugged the dog, and the two shared a close bond almost immediately. Pretzel helps keep Duprey safe at all times, and she makes her feel more comfortable overall.

“I had low blood sugar and she stayed by my side for two hours while I was recovering. My mom and I were sitting there kind of crying thinking ‘Oh my God this is going to be life-changing!’ This is the best decision for me,” said Duprey.

Golden Retriever walking during fall

Duprey believes that everyone with Type 1 diabetes deserves a service dog like Pretzel. She’s working with representatives to petition a bill that would make service dogs more accessible to certain individuals. The bill’s goal is to allow service dogs to be covered by medical insurance.

Caring for a dog is already expensive enough, so Duprey doesn’t want others to have to break the bank to afford a service dog. She’s very grateful to all the kind people who helped her get Pretzel, and she hopes people will continue to support others. You can follow Duprey and Pretzel’s journeys on their Instagram page.

Diabetic alert dog interview

Featured Image: Instagram

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