There is nothing like the bond between a boy and his dog, so when Pleasanton seventh grader Max Wiggins met his Labrador/ Retriever mix pup, Diamond for the first time this month, there was no doubt the two were meant for each other.
“It was an emotional meeting for all of us,” said Jenny Wiggins, Max’s mom. “I was crying in front of all these strangers, they were crying, Max was almost to tears, too. That moment was just really special.”
Max lives with Type 1 Diabetes. Diamond is his 12-week-old Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) who was bred and trained specifically to detect high and low glucose (blood sugar) levels. When these levels are out of norms, a DAD will alert the T1D person that something is wrong and, more specifically, save their life.
Up until last month, Jenny lived with the fear most parents of a T1D kid have: their child not waking up after a sudden change in levels in the middle of the night goes undetected. This is commonly known as the Dead in Bed Syndrome.
“The peace of mind a DAD will bring to our family, to our home and to Max means so much,” said Jenny, who raised aware- ness on the importance of a DAD last November.
After family, friends and members of the community reached out on how to help Max, Jenny set up a GoFundMe Account to raise the $20,000 necessary for a DAD. A softball tournament was also held in May this year where the final $10,000+ were raised for Max’s very own DAD.
The Wiggins family immediately submitted their application and deposit to Tattle Tail, LLC, the breeder Max’s DAD would come from. After being told to expect a dog ready for them in May 2020, the Wiggins received some good news at the end of July: Belle of the Ball Field would be going home to Texas with them.
The week after Max returned from Texas Lions Camp (T1D Camp) this month, Max and his parents travelled to Salt Lake City, Utah to retrieve Diamond.
“I chose the name Diamond because of baseball,” said Max, a yearround select baseball player. “I wanted to keep it similar to her kettle name [Belle of the Ball Field], and since I love baseball, Diamond was a good fit.”
After a week of classes and training, the Wiggins family was headed back to Texas with Diamond.
“Their bond is like no other. She immediately alerted to him when they met,” said Jenny, who explained that because of a change in altitude, Max struggled with high blood sugar the whole week in Utah. “For now, she whines when something is wrong. Part of her training is to get her out of that habit and into a different signal like laying on his feet or something like that.”
Diamond will also alert Max to check his levels by licking or nudging him where the scents of highs and lows are given off on his body. During this interview with Max and Jenny on August 19, Diamond started whining and nudging Max’s feet. When he checked his levels, Max had a high blood sugar.
“It’s amazing how she alerts to him and it’s amazing to witness it. She really was meant for him and that makes me so happy,” said Jenny.
The Wiggins family will undergo video trainings every Monday for the next few months. Starting in November, the duo can be seen in the public together at some times as they get used to their new life together.
“Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. We are forever grateful for the support of this community and to Tattle Tail, LLC,” said Jenny.
You can follow Max and Diamond’s journey on Instagram (@adventures_ of_ madmax_ diamond).