Luke Van Ginkel and Astro, his yellow Labrador Retriever, are inseparable. Where Luke goes, Astro follows.
People are always surprised when they learn that Astro is actually Luke’s service dog.
Luke isn’t blind neither does he look like he needs any special assistance. In fact, Luke is an athlete. He is a kicker on the Upland High School’s football team.
“They always come up to me and say, ‘excuse me, what’s your dog for? Are you training it, or something, for someone else?’ Luke said. “I said, ‘No he’s for me, it’s a new thing. It’s for diabetes. He can alert me when my blood sugar is off.’”
During football practice, Astro hangs out at the sidelines of the field to keep a close eye on Luke.
Astro went through 2 years of specialized training to detect when Luke’s blood sugar is at a dangerous level.
Johanna Reynolds is one of the trainers at Canine Hope for Diabetics. “They have a very low-key alert that is easily recognizable to the handler but not something maybe other people would notice,” says Johanna.
Astro can be as subtle as picking up a specific toy to let Luke know his blood sugar level is off. Also, he doesn’t have to be nearby to sense if Luke is in trouble.
“It is an advantage just having him there. It’s one less thing we have to worry about,” Pete said.
Luke and Astro have developed quite a relationship. Most days if Luke is in sight, Astro isn’t far behind. Astro sleeps beside Luke, wakes up beside Luke, attends classes with him and goes with him to practice. The yellow Lab even has a school ID card.
“He’s saved my life a couple of times,” Luke added.
Image: Luke Van Ginkel/Facebook
Source: NBC Los Angeles