HBA Welcomes First Service Dog

Labradoodle Buddy is HBA's first service dog. Buddy will assist a freshman with Type 1 diabetes in monitoring his blood sugar levels. Photograph by Kayci Kumashiro ('17).

With the end of the school year comes many sights: final exams, summer plans, and… a dog? This past Tuesday, Buddy the Labradoodle joined the HBA community as freshman Mason Mayeda’s service dog.

Mason Mayeda has Type 1 diabetes, which means his body is unable to produce enough insulin—a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Without insulin, the body is not able to transfer glucose from the blood into the cells to give them energy. Too much glucose in a person’s blood may lead to more serious problems such as heart disease, kidney failure, glaucoma, and nerve damage. “Raising a child with Type 1 diabetes has been hard at times,” said Mason Mayeda’s father, John Mayeda. “Not-knowing if Mason will be affected with extreme low or high blood-sugar levels throughout the day, especially during the night or while Mason is at school [is difficult] because as a parent you always worry about your child.”

The Mayeda family chose to get a service dog to help Mason Mayeda monitor his condition after hearing about diabetic service dogs in the news. Through the Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, the family selected a dog based on photographs and descriptions of dogs available. They eventually decided on Buddy, a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. John Mayeda said, “The main reason [we chose Buddy] was that a Labradoodle was ‘cute.’ And my wife and Mason’s sister, Paige, helped Mason with the dog selection. Another main factor was that a Labradoodle does not shed and is hypo-allergenic.”

As a certified service dog, Buddy is trained to detect a specific scent in Mason Mayeda’s breath when his blood sugar levels are out of the normal range. Buddy’s job is to alert him during these times so that he can check his levels and take insulin if necessary. Mason Mayeda said, “I feel that the dog will be a lot of help and make my life a bit easier.”

Buddy is the first service dog to be assisting a student at HBA and high school students can expect to see Buddy in classes, during P.E., on field trips, and wherever Mason Mayeda will be during the school day. On the furry addition to HBA, high school principal Marsha Hirae said, “We really want HBA to be place where all of our students can feel that they belong, and they are supported. This is also a great opportunity for our students to learn about the role of a service animal.”

In support of Mason Mayeda and future students with disabilities, Hirae added, “We will continue to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act in providing reasonable modifications, within the school’s ability and means, so students with disabilities can function successfully and independently at HBA.”

This past Tuesday, on Buddy’s first day at HBA, students gathered in an assembly to hear from Buddy’s trainer about what the dog is trained to do. Ed Peeples, the trainer, who is also the Director of Business Operations at the Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, also took time to answer questions from students and faculty about Buddy’s training process. While it may be tempting to play with Buddy or to stop to pet him, Peeples reminded everyone that Buddy is a working dog and should not be distracted from his job.

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