Eight-year-old Jillian Galvin of Hanover, MA was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age two. Like so many other parents of children with type 1, her parents embarked on a roller coaster ride of learning how to manage the disease for a toddler. It wasn't easy.
They took turns staying up nights to make sure Jillian did not experience highs or lows while she was sleeping. At age four, Jillian, already a patient at Joslin, started using an insulin pump. Still, it was a constant worry for her parents, who were torn between trying to give Jillian a normal childhood and keeping a vigilant eye on her health.
Then, Jillian's parents found out about Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, a non-profit that trains dogs to sniff out the high and low blood sugars for people with diabetes. After being on a waiting list for more than two years, and filling out mounds of paperwork, Jillian and her family were chosen to receive a diabetes alert dog. That's when Eppie, a talented and loving black lab, came into Jillian's life.
Eppie has been by Jillian's side for more than a year-and-a-half, and she not only alerts Jillian of her impending highs and lows with a gentle nudge but lets Jillian's parents and teachers know as well. Eppie is now Jillian's constant companion at home and at school. She has become a part of the family and Jillian's best friend for life.