A southeast Kansas second-grader with Type 1 diabetes is now relying on a friendly Labrador retriever instead of an electronic glucose monitor to help track her blood sugar levels.
The family of 7-year-old Kyla Lankton picked up the four-legged health aide this month from the Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services (CARES) program in the north-central Kansas town of Concordia, The Iola Register reported.
The 2-year-old female Lab, named Arley, is specially trained to detect a person's blood sugar level through her keen sense of smell.
Arley wears a read vest and accompanies Kyla everywhere in the town of Le Roy. If she sniffs a change in Kyla's blood sugar level, she licks the girl's face as a warning that her blood must be checked.
Kyla's father, Korey Lankton, says it's much less intrusive than an electronic glucose monitor, which he said is painful to check.
"She's a remarkable dog," Lankton said, "and they bonded almost instantly."
Kyla still must wear an insulin pump 24 hours a day and closely monitor her diet and activity levels. And Arley must be paid for.
Such "diabetes dogs" can be extremely expensive. Lankton, who teaches physical education and coaches football and basketball at Southern Coffey County High School, said Arley cost less than $10,000 but declined to be specific.
The Lanktons make monthly payments through their bank. But many residents of Le Roy are jumping in to help defray the costs.
A 4-H Club Kyla and her sister belong to is organizing a drawing for which businesses and individuals have donated such prizes as a lap quilt, processed beef, a holiday wreath and a gift card from a hardware store.
One shop is selling "Kyla's Guardian" T-shirts for $10, and footballs autographed by high school and middle school players will also be given away. The drawing will be held Oct. 31 at Southern Coffey County High's last home football game of the season.
"The community's response has been humbling," Korey Lankton said. "Their help has really been a stress-reliever for our family."
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