“The first one was just a favor and the rest of it grew from there,” said Joe Cook.
What started with a single pup turned into a family business for the Cooks of Louisville, Nebraska.
“I actually helped train Ben,” said Laney Cook.
Today Heads Up Hounds has trained more than 60 diabetic alert dogs. Each dog is a rescue.
“So we take into account what kind of dogs they like, along with their lifestyle and what kind of dog is going to make sense for them,” said Jamie Cook.
Once Jamie and Joe Cook find the perfect match, training takes about three to four months.
“What was the first thing you thought when you saw him,” asked Reporter Emily Szink.
“Happy, very happy,” said Aubrey Summers.
The Summers family traveled all the way from Indiana to pick up 9-year-old Aubrey’s pup. Last year Aubrey was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
“This dog is going to be a life saver for Aubrey, literally,” said Brent Summers.
The dogs are trained to do a specific task.
“Smell my breathe,” said Aubrey Summers.
Each dog uses its heightened sense of smell to detect changes in the scent of a diabetic’s saliva. The dog will then alert its handler if they're at a good blood sugar level or not.
Parents of diabetic children across the country are turning to Heads Up Hounds.
“We’ve been looking into alert dogs for a little while now,” said Ashley Thomas.
Liam Thomas is an animated little boy from Maine with Type 1 Diabetes.
Ashley Thomas says her four-year-old would greatly benefit from an alert dog, but the pups come at a price. Each one costs $8000.
“We had a very generous donation yesterday that really helped us meet our goal and then exceed it,” said Thomas.
Like the Thomas family, many families have turned to the popular crowd funding site GoFundMe to raise the funds. On Tuesday the Thomas family exceeded their fundraising goal. Within the year they hope to travel to Nebraska to pick up Liam’s dog.
“You save a dog's life and potentially a human's life. It is a win, win,” said Thomas.
Thomas says her family plans on donating the excess funds raised from Liam’s GoFundMe page to another family looking to buy a diabetic alert dog.
These dogs are in such high demand that the Cooks have an 18-month wait list. They usually train a dozen dogs at a time. To find out more head to their website http://www.headsuphounds.com/