Like many little girls, 4-year-old Amber Quick of Roseboro wants a dog. However, the dog she and her family wants will not just be a furry friend. First and foremost, it will help keep Amber healthy and safe.
Amber, who will celebrate her 5th birthday in July, had a tough start in life. She was born prematurely, only developed to the 32 to 34 week stage and with a host of health of health issues.
According to her mother Brenda Quick, Amber was born with a congenital heart defect and a 8P23 deletion, a chromosome abnormality that increases the risks of birth defects, causes delays in development and now makes learning difficult.
She was also diagnosed with failure to thrive, a growth disorder that called for a feeding tube and then the surgical implantation of a mickey button, a device that allows for feeding directly into the stomach.
In addition to the mickey button, Amber also underwent surgery on her heart, having her first surgery before she was even a year old. Another heart surgery was required when she was 3.
Last but certainly not least, Amber was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at birth. She receives insulin through a pump that she has had since she was four months old.
However, even with the pump, it is still a challenge to regulate Amber’s sugar levels, said Brenda.
“I have to check her levels in the morning before she goes to pre-school (at Roseboro Elementary). At school, they check her levels before she eats lunch and probably should before she has a snack. I check her levels again before supper and also before she goes to bed,” shared her mother. “But sometimes I have to check it more, in between all those times.”
The close monitoring that Amber’s diabetes requires is why she and her family want a dog, but not just any dog, they need a diabetic alert dog.
Diabetic alert dogs are trained to detect increases and decreases in sugar levels via scent. They can pick up on the varying smells that a person with diabetes gives off when their sugar levels change.
“The dogs are actually supposed to be able to detect changes by smell before I would be able to tell by checking her sugars,” explained Brenda.”The dog would really help me a lot, especially during the night.”
“Amber certainly keeps me on my toes with her diabetes and all her other health problems,” Brenda continued. “I would certainly worry a little less if we had the dog.”
Unfortunately, getting a diabetic alert dog can be challenging. First of all, the specially trained dog is not covered by Amber’s insurance and costs about $20,000.
Also, there is a long application process. According to Brenda, she has found a place in Georgia where she can eventually purchase a diabetic alert dog and has been working on the application for some time, which involves writing an autobiography for Amber and gathering numerous reference letters. “I have gotten reference letters from her therapist, her teachers, her endocrinology doctor and her heart doctor.”
Still, once the application is processed, Amber may be placed a waiting list, possibly having to wait for one to five years. However, Brenda noted that diabetics who are most in need a dog can be moved up the list. “It is done a need basis.”
When Amber is able to receive a dog, she and the family will need to travel to Georgia for a two-week training period with the dog. If everything goes as planned during training, the dog would then go home with Amber and “typically the dog would be with her wherever she goes,” helping Amber’s family keep her safe and giving them a little more peace of mind, Brenda explained.
The Quick family has appealed to the community for help and support, but acknowledge that getting the word out has been another challenge.
This past February, Brenda created the Amber Quick Fund at First Citizens Bank so that family, friends and anyone else touched by Amber’s story could easily contribute to the fund for her current need.
Donation containers have also been distributed to businesses in Roseboro, like Lakewood Plaza Seafood and Main Street Pizza.
“So far, I think I have almost $300 in Amber’s fund,” said Brenda.
Although only 4 years old, Brenda shared that Amber does realize in her own way what the dog is really for. “She understands that the dog would help me take care of her, that it would put us having a closer check on her sugar levels, particularly in the wee hours of the morning. Every now and then, she asks me, ‘Are we going to get my doggie now?’”
“I just want everyone to know that every little bit would help and be greatly appreciated.”
If you would like to help Amber get her diabetic alert dog, you can visit First Citizens Bank and ask to make a donation to the Amber Quick Fund.
For more information, please visit Amber’s Diabetic Alert Dog page on Facebook. Emails asking questions or requesting more information can also be sent to Brenda Quick at BQuick_06@yahoo.com.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.