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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A young man’s specially trained dog is helping his owner score big on the football field without risking his life.
Football player Luke Van Ginkel says his dog Astro is his best line of defense.
“He’s saved my life countless times,” said Van Ginkel.
The 3-year old golden lab has been by his side for the past couple of years as his diabetic alert service dog. Armed with a student ID, service patches, and a nose trained to sniff out danger, Astro lets Luke know every time his blood sugar level gets too high or too low.
“My body makes a special chemical difference in my scent and saliva in my mouth and he can smell the differences,” said Van Ginkel.
Astro alerts him by pulling on a stuffed toy the 18-year old keeps on him. It even happened during the interview so Luke tested himself and found that his sugar level was really high.
“I’ve had bad seizures in the past where I’ve gone into a coma because of it and nearly lost my life. I don’t think there’s been a time when he’s been off,” said Van Ginkel.
When it’s game time, Astro can still sense Luke’s levels from the sidelines. Occasionally, he wants a snack, but his focus is always on player #7.
Luke calls Astro his best friend and a “chick magnet.”
“Yeah, I’ve gotten some numbers because of Astro,” said Van Ginkel.
But most of all Astro is family.
“I think it’s a miracle what he can do for me. He’s like my son or brother to me. I don’t know what I’d do without him,” said Van Ginkel.
In addition to diabetes, dogs are being trained to be alert for other medical conditions such as autism, panic attacks, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy and seizures.
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