Joey Saunders is like most eight-year-old boys.
He's got a ton of energy. He likes to play sports and run around with his friends. He has a dog, Sniper who is like most dogs. He likes to run around and play, too.
But Joey is also different from most eight-year-old boys.
And Sniper, a yellow lab, is different from most dogs.
Joey has Type 1 Diabetes with hypoglycemic unawareness. That means Joey can't tell when his blood sugars drop low.
But Sniper can.
That's important because Joey's sugars can drop when he is playing or sleeping, an event that can cause seizures, coma and even death
Joey wears an insulin pump with a monitor which can detect when his sugars drop dangerously low, but the device is no match for an alert dog like Sniper who can sense a blood sugar drop 20 to 30 minutes before the monitor.
A dog like Sniper, who is still undergoing training, can cost several thousand dollars. Next Sunday, Dec. 23, at Gerrity's Market in West Pittston a Bagging for Charity event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will raise money to help pay for Sniper.
Joey's family and friends will be bagging groceries for shoppers who can make donations. Joey and Sniper will be there.
When fully trained Sniper will smell Joey's blood sugar, know if it is high or low and alert Joey to that by pawing at his knee. This is where a dog bests technology again.
Diabetics may sleep right through a monitor's alarm, but a trained diabetic alert dog is persistent to the point where he will go get another member of the household if the diabetic doesn't respond.
Once fully trained, Sniper will be 100% accurate in detecting dangerous sugars levels.
Sniper is being trained by Warren Retriever Labs in Orange, Virginia, a leader in the industry.
You can also help by visiting www.facebook.com/AGuardianAngelForJoey.
Joey lives in West Pittston with his mother Rachel, father Thomas, sisters Alexis and Jenna, 7 and brother Steven, 10. Joey and his siblings are Wyoming Area students.
WHAT Bagging for Charity
WHEN Sunday, Dec. 23, 10-5
WHERE Gerrity's Supermarket, West Pittston
CAUSE Funds for Joey Saunders' special dog