Posted on October 15, 2022
Wonders never cease! We welcomed our new 4-legged student--a sleek black-furred Labrador Retriever named Scout to campus with Emily, his handler. Emily, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last year, must be monitored 24-7 in order to be able to respond in a timely manner to spikes or drops in her sugar level. T1D is an autoimmune disease wherein the body is unable to produce insulin, which is needed to break down the carbohydrates we eat into blood glucose (blood sugar). Without insulin, the body becomes unregulated, unable to rely on the glucose that fuels and energizes normal body functions. Scout is a highly trained, certified, diabetic alert service animal able to recognize and alert Emily to dangerous high or low conditions even before she feels symptoms so that she can take the necessary steps to prevent hypoglycemia.
Preschool and elementary parents received information about Scout the week prior to his arrival. In a virtual assembly on Scoutʻs first day at Mid-Pacific, all students, faculty, and staff met Emily, Scout, and Scoutʻs trainer Shelby. Emily bravely explained what Type 1 Diabetes is and how Scout helps her. When he detects through his highly sensitive sense of smell the onset of high or low blood sugar levels in Emily about 15 to 30 minutes before a change, Scout will paw Emilyʻs legs. Shelby the trainer explained that Scout is a working dog and that no one should distract Scout by talking or playing with him or trying to touch him. Emilyʻs mother also spoke to everyone and thanked us for helping to keep her daughter safe by respecting the rules of behavior around Scout.
Scout has spent four of what will be many, many days ahead on campus with Emily and the students. He quietly walks and sits beside her and lies at her feet under her desk. Emilyʻs peers and teachers go on with their business in the classroom so that itʻs easy to forget that we have an amazing wonder in our midst!
Being inclusive of students who need this kind of support and observing the ways our students and faculty have been responding makes me proud of our school community. Empathy, care, and community are Mid-Pacificʻs core values made visible every time Emily and Scout are going about their learning on campus.
On behalf of Emily and Scout and her family, mahalo!
E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.
(Photos courtesy of Maile Kawamura)