The TODAY Show had a serious case of puppy love on Monday morning. The 8-week-old black lab is TODAY's second puppy with a purpose. The pup is part of America's VetDogs, a group that trains dogs to support veterans and first responders, physically and emotionally.
Service dogs are used for different reasons. The TODAY Show's new addition works with veterans, but Local 6 met two service dogs in our area who monitor their owners' blood sugar levels.
Fantasia the poodle is more than a pet to Kevin Tucker. He's also more than a comfort for his wife.
"I've watched Fantasia alert her in a crowd of 16,000 people. He just popped up, poked her on the nose and I knew right away it was time to get some food," Kevin said.
His wife, Esther, found out she had Type 2 diabetes 12 years ago.
"I have had some lows that caused me to black out on several occasions," Esther said.
After these scares, she started training dogs to help her monitor her blood sugar levels.
"It's incredibly important. I feel like dogs will pick up on a glucose reading better than a glucometer will," Esther said.
Through treats, a clicker and samples of her saliva, Esther taught Fantasia to be her personal monitor.
"I'll always have a service dog, because I feel like, especially at home, it's a good —I don't want to say back up plan, because sometimes they're my only plan," Esther said.
That's why 1-year-old dalmatian Alice is now in training.
As a mother of five, Esther has decided to teach other dog owners to train their dogs too.
"I have children, and I wanted to be able to help other mothers that have children, especially children of Type 1 diabetics, just to give them that insurance," Esther said.
The dogs are not only a sense of security for the family, but two more members of the Tucker pack.
"I couldn't imagine a family without them, Fantasia and Alice both. They fill in the gaps," Esther said.
If you want to learn more about the Tucker's training, you can call 270-970-8667 or email email@example.com.
Vote here to choose a name for the TODAY show's new puppy with a purpose.
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