CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) - A Clinton man who has struggled with diabetes most of his life got a special partner Tuesday to help him control it.
Michael Jones got a new diabetic alert dog, but it did not come easy.
"Michael appeared to have diabetic unawareness," said Michael's father Robert Jones.
For most of his life, Michael Jones, who also has Down syndrome, was able to tell on his own when his blood sugar was dropping or rising to dangerous levels, but about a year and a half ago something strange happened.
"Mike looked at us and he said, 'I can't feel my legs,' and we knew something was seriously wrong," Robert Jones said.
He was rushed to the emergency room where his blood sugar registered at 889. Normal levels for him are usually no higher than 120.
Their doctor suggested a diabetic alert dog. They are trained to alert their owners whenever their sugar levels start changing too much, but unfortunately because Michael Jones has Down syndrome, finding a company to work with them was difficult.
"We were basically told that because of his handicap they just didn't think he would adapt to an alert dog," Robert Jones said.
Then they found Diabetic Alert Dogs of America.
"Our idea is that we want to catch it right when it drops to 80, not when the meter is catching it at 40," said Josh Peeples, a trainer with Diabetic Alert Dogs of America.
The dogs do not come cheap though. Michael Jones' family needed about $15,000. That's when friends stepped in to help.
"The Lions Club said you know what, yeah he can and we can get this done," Robert Jones said.
Through a lot of fundraisers, they did.
Finally, Michael Jones and his dog Ami met face-to-face on Tuesday and started their partnership.
"I feel awesome," Michael Jones said.
His family is now resting easier knowing help is always at his side.
The Clinton Lions Club is now looking to keep raising awareness and money to help get others get diabetic alert dogs. If you would like to help with their mission, you can contact them online at http://clinton.tnlions.org/contact-us/