As featured in the 4 Paws for Ability 2017 Annual Report
Hero, a German Retriever, was matched with Mitchell Williams, a USAF Veteran, in October 2017. Hero is a diabetic alert service dog and has been instrumental in alerting his owner to drops in his blood glucose level. “His range of alerting is usually between 70-180. (A normal blood glucose range is between 70-99 milligrams per decalitre.) When he alerts he first will give me that eye-to-eye look. Then, almost immediately, he will place his paw on my lap, and if my blood glucose is suddenly very low he will lick vigorously at my left ear. He always gives a bark to get my attention, or anyone’s attention that is close by. He was very well trained by the staff at 4 Paws for Ability on alerting,” Mitch explained. Hero has given peace of mind to Mitch’s wife Mary Jane who, in the past, worried about him every time she left for work as a non-medical home health assistant for Diversified Healthcare in Fairhope, Alabama.
Mitch and Hero hadn’t been partners for long, before Hero alerted to a major problem. Mitch credits Hero with saving his life that day. After an afternoon at a ball park, Mitch began slurring his words and was unable to stand up. He also began hallucinating. Remarkably, his blood glucose readings on both hands tested normal according to his wife, however, Hero began alerting energetically causing Mary Jane to summon the EMTs. On their recommendation, Mitch was taken to Thomas Hospital and was found to be having severe seizures, rather than the
stroke that was Mary Jane’s fear. Mitch credits Hero for being definitive about the emergency situation and feels that their close bond was the reason he could detect a new crisis situation
for his human partner.
Alabama-born, fifty-five year-old Mitch, was a Master Plumber and Gas Fitter who qualified as Journeyman Plumber for the military. He served in the United States Air Force from 1986-1987. Unfortunately, Mitch experienced an adverse reaction to immunizations he received, resulting in damage to his pancreas, leading to his future Type I Diabetes diagnosis. He ultimately had to stop working because of the severity of his disease.
Mitch’s mother, Katy Mitchell Williams, started him on the search for a diabetic service dog. He found out about 4 Paws after an internet search for “Diabetic Alert Dog.” He felt that his life changed forever when he got information and was ultimately accepted into the program.
According to Mitch, a brand new, rewarding and confident future opened up ahead of him after being matched with Hero. “Hero and I have bonded so well that in addition to knowing
when my blood glucose is out of whack, he even knows when I need to take a nap. The bond between Hero and me is stronger than I could ever have imagined. I could never have asked for a better service dog.”