PINEHURST, Idaho – Brenda Erickson welcomed a new member of her family into her home from Alabama.
Her service dog, Kendrick, became the partner attached to her side.
Erickson is a brittle type 1 diabetic and had become used to checking her blood sugar levels. But her situation worsened two years ago.
“I didn’t make it home,” she said. “My coworkers came back from a meeting and found me two and a half hours later. My blood sugar was under 17.”
After that incident, Erickson realized watching her carbs wasn’t enough to keep her alive.
She began searching for additional ways to check her blood sugar levels. That’s how she found out about Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers.
SDWR is an organization that trains service dogs and pairs them with people with diabetes, autism, seizures and PTSD.
Brenda said she was excited to receive a dog from the program but soon learned that her friend would cost her $25,000. That's when she began raising money.
“I just went to businesses, door-to-door, pretty much asking for donations,” Erickson said.
She said even strangers donated to her after she told them her goal.
Two years later, she’d saved enough to get her dog.
“It took a lot of hard work,” she said.
Kendrick flew in from Alabama to start a life in a home across the country.
He is two years old but started his training when he was just seven weeks.
Erin Gray, one of Kendrick’s trainers, said he can sense fluctuations in Brenda’s blood sugar level. If it rises above or falls below her normal range, Kendrick would tap his paw on Brenda or someone else if she was not responding.
“He’s a life-changing piece of medical equipment to a family that not only helps Brenda, but also helps her family, friends, community know that she has an extra nose watching out for her,” Gray said.
“He’s my dog. He’s here. It’s excitement and relief at the same time,” Erickson said.