dog diabetes jenna

Jenna-Mae needs a diabetes alert dog to monitor her insulin levels. Image: Provided

Little Jenna needs a ‘Diabetic Alert Dog’ to monitor her insulin levels

‘Nothing is as scary as sleeping at night, hoping & praying she won’t go low and fall into a coma,’ says Jenna’s mom Cherise.

dog diabetes jenna

Jenna-Mae needs a diabetes alert dog to monitor her insulin levels. Image: Provided

In September 2021, Jenna-Mae van der Vyver, an ‘exceptionally smart and compassionate’ 2-year-old girl from Krugersdorp, Johannesburg, was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1, an auto-immune condition, which typically appears during adolescence.

As Type 1 diabetes is not lifestyle or diet-related, being insulin-dependent will be a lifelong struggle for Jenna-Mae.

Jenna- Mae: A little girl with a big heart and bad condition

While in the ‘honeymoon phase’ as doctors coin it, Jenna-Mae’s insulin levels are erratic and hard to predict, resulting in many sleepless nights for her parents, Cherise (38) and Johan (47), who are worried that one day she might not make it through the night.

“Nothing is as scary as sleeping at night, hoping & praying she won’t go low, fall into a coma, and you won’t hear your alarm for her nightly midnight, 2 am and 4 am checks.

“Or, when you drive back from the shops (just 5 minutes) and you reach home to an unresponsive, unreactive child in the back seat… even though you checked her insulin levels 5 minutes ago… you shake her, scream at her to wake up and try to shove something sugary in her mouth without choking her… not cool mense, not cool.” – says Cherise.

Jenna-Mae is as bubbly as ever. Image: Provided

ALSO READ: Halle Berry hosts global Wellness Warriorthon for World Diabetes Day

Jenna-Mae handles her condition with understanding and bravery, taking pokes and pricks and injections with a determined attitude, and generally without complaint, according to her mum.

“When her insulin levels are high she is overly busy and unfocused but understands that she is unable to eat sugar or carbs as it will make her feel sick. When she is low she can be very tearful, emotional, tired, and clingy, but she will often tell us to grab her a Super C to bring her levels up” says Cherise.

Little Jenna loves playing dress-up. Image: Provided

Wanted: A dog to join the pack

As Jenna-Mae is so little, and can’t always communicate to her parents how she is feeling, her parents have found the perfect solution, in the form of a Diabetic Alert Dog.

Incredibly, Diabetic Alert Dogs can detect high or low insulin levels, using their keen sense of smell, up to 20 minutes before devices can.

To purchase a ‘paramedic pup’ and cover his/her, food and medical needs over the next 12 months while in training, the van der Vyver family have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Backabuddy, which has already raised over R52 000 towards their fundraising target of R60 000, with kind donations from 57 donors.

Jenna can’t wait to meet her forever companion. Image: Provided

Funds raised will be paid directly to Honey’s Guide Dogs, a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town which does a phenomenal job of selecting, training, and matching these incredible canines with their ‘forever companions’.

Jenna-Mae is incredibly excited to meet her furry friend, who will forever watch out for her, accompany her to school, and wherever her heart takes her.

“Please help us, to help Miss Mae. This doggie will be part of our family, part of our team, and also a friend to our little sunshine. We know we are on this journey for a reason. We know we have the love and backing of God our Father. And we believe we can do this, with your help” – says Cherise.

If the fundraising campaign exceeds its target, the family will use additional funds raised to purchase Freestyle Libre sensor devices, which will be able to read Jenna-Mae’s sugar levels more accurately and less painfully. These devices cost R1000 and last up to 14 days.

ALSO READ: World Diabetes Day: Early warning signs of type 2 diabetes