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Meet Buddy: A Hawaii boy's new best friend that could also save his life

Published: May. 23, 2017 at 9:27 PM HST|Updated: May. 23, 2017 at 9:59 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A teenage boy living with Type 1 diabetes now has a new, four-legged friend to help monitor his blood sugar levels.

Buddy is a service dog specially trained to detect warning signs in Type 1 diabetics. He's now by the side of 15-year-old Mason Mayeda around the clock.

"A lot of times I'm sick for maybe a week or a week and a half," Mason said.

Buddy is a one-year-old golden retriever and poodle mix. For the last eight months, Buddy trained with samples of Mason's saliva to know exactly what to look for.

Ed Peebles of Diabetic Alert Dogs of America trains and sells service dogs that smell a Type 1 diabetic's breath and perspiration, and can detect when sugar levels are too high or too low.

"Buddy will go up and start pawing at Mason to get his attention to let him know that his blood sugar is getting low and he needs to eat something, take some juice, drink something," Peebles said.

The Las Vegas company says the dogs can detect warning signs 30 minutes faster than a man-made machine.

That swift warning could avoid a trip to the hospital for Mason, and even save his life.

"I wake up around 1:30 or 2 o'clock in the morning to take his blood sugar levels to make sure he'll make it through the night. Now Buddy's there so we can lean on Buddy," John Mayeda, Mason's father, said.

On Tuesday, Mason, who is a Freshman at Hawaii Baptist Academy, brought Buddy to school. Buddy was introduced during an assembly so students know to treat him as a service animal, and not a pet.

"I picked him because he looked nice and it said he was mellow and good with children so I thought it would be a good fit," Mason said.

Buddy has been taught to understand 20 different hand signals.

John Mayeda said he paid $15,000 for Buddy, an investment that brings a priceless peace of mind.

"When we're not with him, especially at school or other events, Buddy is there," he said.

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