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Diabetic alert dog to help Enid girl and family manage disease

Kaleigh Buckminster, 3, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 13 months old. In about two months, she will receive Memphis, a diabetic alert dog who will tell her parents and other adults when Kaleigh's levels are too low or high.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: November 15, 2012

Every two hours, every night, an alarm goes off in Taylor and Joy Buckminster's bedroom.

And every two hours, every night, Taylor or Joy gets up and checks their daughter's blood sugar.

This is a routine the parents have had for the past two years. And there have been times when someone didn't wake up for an alarm.

“There are times that you're so exhausted, you may sleep through one alarm, and all of a sudden, you just have this gut-wrenching feeling that you just fly out of bed,” Taylor Buckminster said.

In about two months, the Buckminsters, of Enid, will receive an $18,000 diabetic alert system that will better enable them to predict their daughter's blood sugar.

The system is about 40 pounds, about 8 months old, and goes by the name Memphis.

Kaleigh will be the first to tell you that she cannot wait for her diabetic alert dog to show up.

“I love him,” she said.

Many people are familiar with other types of service dogs, those that help the blind, or help police officers detect drugs.

The Buckminsters will get Memphis from the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs, one of the first companies in the nation to train dogs for this specific purpose.

Committed partner

The family has held at least nine fundraisers to raise money to buy Memphis, who will cost $18,000. So far, they have about $15,800. It's recommended that Memphis eat special food, which costs $50 per bag. Add veterinary bills, and the family is looking at taking on a significant commitment.

But the family understands the cost of Memphis, and more than that, they appreciate what he can bring to their family.

Kaleigh was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 13 months old. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Kaleigh was diagnosed after being sick for three weeks. After several doctor's appointments, her parents took Kaleigh to the emergency room.

When hospital staff took Kaleigh's blood sugar, it was 868. A normal range for Kaleigh would have been 80 to 180. Her blood sugar was so high, the hospital staff thought its machine was broken.

“They've told us several times that it's a miracle she's still with us,” Joy Buckminster said.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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