STEUBENVILLE - Diabetes is a tough illness to deal with, especially for a young child. One thing that can make the ordeal a bit easier is a diabetic alert dog.
Abigail Busana, age three, was diagnosed with Type One diabetes approximately 15 months ago. At that time, her mother, Michelle Benedict, saw another patient with a diabetic alert dog and the idea has stuck with her ever since. She's now taking an active stance with several fundraising avenues to get a dog for her daughter from Heads Up Hounds, a Nebraska organization which exclusively utilizes rescue dogs to be trained for diabetic individuals.
Diabetic alert dogs are trained to be able to smell changes in blood sugar when it goes too high or low. When blood sugar is determined by the dog to be at an alert-worthy level, they bump the diabetic or his or her caregiver's hand. Because Busana is only three years old, the dog will notify Benedict if it senses a dangerous blood sugar level. Benedict said a dog will be able to sense if something's off before a meter would pick it up. Faster detection will go a long way toward keeping Busana healthy, who has been in the hospital more than once.
"I've always thought about it since she was diagnosed," said Benedict, a Steubenville resident. "I researched it for about a year and decided to go ahead and try to get one because it will be a better defense against the disease to keep her out of the hospital."
Benedict says a diabetic alert dog is "the only thing about diabetes that doesn't hurt," adding that the condition has been hard on Busana, who does not feel the changes in her own blood sugar and gets 10-15 finger pokes and five to six insulin injections a day. Benedict has to be alert constantly, as an emergency situation could develop rapidly for Busana.
"It's hard to have a three-year-old feel that pain, to understand it's to keep her healthy and alive," Benedict said.
Busana's condition has also affected her five-year-old brother, Jonathan, who Benedict says has begun to pick up on the concept of low and high blood sugar, and has a hard time seeing his sister in the hospital. Busana also has a baby sister named Mackenzie.
Busana understands what her mother, father Benjamin Busana, grandparents Carol and John Benedict and other family and friends are doing to get her a diabetic alert dog, and she is excited to have a companion that will help her live a healthier life. Unfortunately, diabetic alert dogs do not come cheap. Busana's will cost $8,500, and so far $650 has been raised.
Currently, there are three ways to donate for Busana's dog.
- Donations can be received at any Huntington Bank. Just say you would like to donate to the "Benefit for Abigail Busana" account.
- Donations can be made via cash or check and sent directly to Heads Up Hounds at P.O. Box 303 in Louisville, NE 68037. Just be sure to include a note about who it is for.
- Benedict has also set up a page at a fundraising website for donations, at www.youcaring.com/abigailshope.
On May 31, a spaghetti dinner benefit will be held for Busana at the Knoxville Volunteer Fire Department, located at 15447 State Route 152 in Toronto. It will start at 4 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m; patrons can eat in or carry out. There will be a Chinese auction and a 50/50 raffle. Additionally, t-shirts and silicon bracelets with the slogan "Until there's a cure, there's a dog" will be on sale.
Benedict describes her daughter as a fun-loving girl who loves baby dolls, dancing and coloring. Benedict says that any donation, no matter how small, is helpful to her cause. Busana's path to getting a diabetic alert dog and her life with Type One diabetes can be followed at "Abigail's Journey" on Facebook.