Sophie Mullins, 4, welcomed her new friend Peaches, a trained diabetic alert dog, with excitement and joy Monday, April 15, 2013 at St. John's International Airport. Sophie, along with family and friends were at the airport to meet Peaches and its trainer Phoebe Bault as they arrived from Warren Retrievers, a company based in Virginia. Sophie hugged and kissed the dog, a six-month-old black Labrador retriever, and posed for photos and videos. Last fall, The Telegram told the story of the Mullins family’s efforts to raise the necessary funds to purchase the dog — at the time they were $10,000 short after having raised $15,000. A short while later, an anonymous donor came through with most of the remaining funds necessary to purchase the animal. Warren Retrievers has an associated non-profit group called Guardian Angel Service Dogs. The actual cost of training a dog is $40,000.
For Sophie, who must have her blood sugar levels checked at least 12 times daily, Peaches will be an important aid for the family. Diabetic alert dogs are sensitized to detect when a person’s blood-sugar levels are dangerously high or low. They will bark or complete a special trick to attract the attention of others. If that fails, the dog is trained to hit a panic button to contact 911.