Diabetic Gilroy athlete seeks service dog

Finding normalcy Gilroy’s Tanner McNabb, a 10-year-old with Type 1 diabetes, just wants to be like other kids his age. He is hindered by fluctuating blood sugar levels, but could live a relatively “normal” life with the help of a service dog.

GILROY—It’s often said that dogs are humanity’s best friends. And one special little boy is hoping to soon have his own special best friend.
Tanner McNabb, a 10-year-old Gilroy boy with Type 1 diabetes, eagerly awaits the day his family can bring home a diabetic service dog—a special canine that can detect the highs and lows in McNabb’s blood sugar, dial 9-1-1 in an emergency and carry a kit with his medications and other essentials.
But most importantly, Tanner’s mom Erin McNabb said, it will keep her son secure and allow him to feel normal.
“It’s just hard for him because he has highs and lows so much, that he doesn’t feel like he’s a normal child,” Erin said, choking back tears. “He wants to be normal, which will never happen. But at least if we can keep him stable, then he can feel normal.”
Tanner, like most boys his age, is active in sports and plays water polo with the Morgan Hill Makos. The older he gets, the more independence he wants, which is something his family can’t give him.
A sleepover at a friend’s house or a day at the beach with friends is out of the question for Tanner, as his parents are constantly worrying about his safety. If his blood sugar level climbs too high, he could go blind or his kidneys could fail. But a specially trained service dog can help eliminate those fears.
Tanner already has an insulin pump, which connects through a tube to his stomach that constantly delivers his insulin. He also has a continuous glucose monitor that automatically checks his blood every five minutes, but a service dog can detect irregularities in his blood sugar two hours before the device can. And those two hours can make a vital difference.
“It’s going to be a lot less stressful because we’re constantly worrying about him. Is he OK? Is he not OK? Is he going to crash? Is he going to be high?” Erin said. “It’s just peace of mind. I don’t ever sleep because I’m constantly checking his blood all night long.”
But a dog with this type of training carries a lofty price tag. The service dog will cost the family $24,000, of which they have raised $2,000 so far. To garner support, Erin will host a Paint Nite fundraiser from 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 7 at Old City Hall, located at 7400 Monterey Street. The restaurant’s owners donated the space for the event and Dabble Art Center of Gilroy is providing the services of artist Tamura Miguel to lead the painting session.
The Paint Nite fundraiser cost $45 per person and includes the canvas, paint, hors d’oeuvres and two glasses of wine. There will also be a raffle and silent auction. Those wanting to attend can sign up on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1eycRnX.
Erin said she’s hoping to raise $10,000 from the event as the family needs only $12,000 to purchase the dog and has a year to cover the remaining balance. And while the cost may seem large to some, Erin said it’s well worth it.
“It’ll give more freedom for him and give us a peace of mind that he’s going to be OK. You can’t put a price on that,” she said. “It’s another set of eyes. He won’t be a normal kid, but he’ll be able to do things that his other friends do. He can go be a boy.”
Warren Retrievers, the nonprofit that trains diabetic and other service dogs, can be reached at sdwr.org.
For other ways to help, visit the McNabb family’s website at bit.ly/1HZTFKx.