KNOXVILLE (WATE) - We all know dogs are man's best friend, but now they're becoming true lifesavers in the homes of people with diabetes.
Sydney Onks, 8, and her sister Kendyl, 9, are often mistaken as twins. They share a lot, including Type 1 diabetes.
Big sister Bailey helps watch over them after school.
Whether it's study time or play time, you never know when their blood sugar will either go dangerously low or high.
"We have to keep a close eye on them," said the girls' mother Tara Onks.
The girls, active in sports like soccer and basketball, are each on an insulin pump.
They're good about checking their blood sugar.
But even though, the girls often have normal numbers, their mom still worries, especially at night.
"There's been times when I've woke up in the middle of the night just for no reason but went and checked her and she was kind of out of it," Tara said.
That's why when the family learned about diabetic alert service dogs, they jumped at the chance to get two - one for each of the girls.
The dogs are trained to pick up a symptom of low and high blood sugar through their sense of smell.
"They put off a scent that the dog can smell, so it's trained to go alert the child whether it's bark at the child, paw the child, whatever, and then they know to go check their finger," she said.
The Onks are collecting samples of the girls' individual scents. Inside the freezer are several mason jars containing specimens that will be sent to trainers with the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs.
The girls said they were very excited about the dogs.
"I was screaming and jumping all around the house," said Kendyl.
"I fainted," Sydney said.
"She fell on the couch, she was so excited," Kendyl added.
Thanks to a Wisconsin fundraiser, one dog, a golden retriever named Tucker, is already on the way.
Now, the family is hoping to raise the $18,000 needed for another one named Mack.
"I really like Mack," said Sydney. "He's adorable."
It's pets providing protection in such an amazing way.
"These dogs could one day save my girls' lives and I worry for them every day and as a parent you want to do everything you can," Tara said.
The family has about $3,000 in donations for the second dog, Mack.
If you'd like to help, you can make a donation through a special Facebook page set up for the girls.