Animal stories – Dog more than pet to diabetic teenager

MEMPHIS – Wherever 15-year-old Blac Hughes goes, his dog Snap is right by his side.

Snap is more than just Blac’s new best friend; he is a lifesaver for the teen, who pronounces his name “Blake.”

Snap, a boxer-golden-retriever mix, is a medic-alert dog bought by Blac’s family in June to monitor the diabetic teen’s blood-sugar level.

The family has had no trouble adapting to Snap, but the same cannot be said of some area restaurants and stores that have not been as welcoming to the service dog.

“We were told by one restaurant that unless he was a seeing-eye dog, he could not come into the business,” said Blac’s mother, Delores Church. “After I told them they were violating state and federal laws, they let us in, but they made us come through the back door and put us in a separate part of the restaurant.”

That’s why Church is out to raise public awareness about medic-alert dogs.

“I know some people aren’t dog people, but Snap is more than just a dog. He can save my son’s life,” Church said. “Wherever we go, we are happy to explain what Snap does for my son.”

When Blac’s blood-sugar level changes, Snap has been trained to literally smell the difference.

“Everyone has a unique scent, and Snap can detect the scent changes when Blac’s blood-sugar level drops,” said Church.

The first night the family brought him home, Snap alerted Church that Blac’s blood-sugar level had changed.

“It was the middle of the night and he came into our bedroom and put his head on the bed to let me know something wasn’t right with Blac,” she said. “And sure enough, when I went into his room, his blood-sugar level was extremely low.”

Snap will also alert Blac when his blood-sugar level is not stable. When he does, Blac rewards him with a treat.

Snap was purchased from the nonprofit group Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services in Concordia, Kan. The group begins training dogs like Snap when they are 6 to 8 weeks old. By the time they are 18 months old like Snap, they are ready to serve people with seizures or diabetes.

Blac and Snap are inseparable. When school starts, Snap will be attending high school with Blac.

“If I need help, Snap is right there for me,” Blac said. “He is a good boy, and we will be together for a long time, and I am grateful to have him.”

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