Dante Morrissette's Timone a lifesaver
Dante Morrissette's mother, Tasha, was never able to sleep as well as she has since she bought him a chocolate labrador named Timone.
© Justin Crann
Dante Morrissette and his service dog, Timone. Morrissette has Type 1 diabetes and Timone is a specially trained chocolate labrador who alerts Dante or his mother, Tasha, if his blood sugar is abnormal.
Dante, 14, is a Type 1 diabetic. Timone is a specially trained dog who alerts Dante when his blood sugar level is outside the safe range.
"When you're a Type 1 diabetic's parent, you don't sleep, because they can have seizures and other problems during the night," said Tasha. "We would have to get up at least two or three times a night and check on Dante. But now, if he has any problems, Timone wakes me up.
"Now I can sleep," she added.
Sleep is important for Tasha, a single mother who works multiple jobs to help raise the funds to finish paying for Timone's training and to cover his food and expenses, as well as those of the family.
When the family bought Timone, they were given a $25,000 bill that they pay in quarterly instalments of $3,000.
The community pitches in, as well, and through fundraising efforts and Tasha's own hard work, that bill has been reduced to $9,500, Tasha said.
But Timone is a lot more than just an alert dog — he is also a close friend.
"We have a special relationship with each other and a mutual respect," Dante said.
When the Times-Herald met up with the family on Thursday, Dante and Timone spent more than 10 minutes playing with each other before Tasha arrived.
Minutes before she did, Timone began to grumble and paw at Dante. Dante tested his blood sugar and was within the "safe" range.
Timone was insistent and five minutes after Tasha arrived, Dante tested his blood sugar again. It was high.
It's a feat Timone has executed so often it seems almost normal — even when he is doing it from halfway across the city.
Timone can alert Tasha even when he and Dante are up to six kilometres apart.
"Unless Dante leaves the city, Timone can alert," said Tasha. "So Timone doesn't get a break."
Timone is still a puppy, and his training is not yet complete. He can be excitable and get distracted if there's enough noise or activity going on, said Dante.
But after his training is finished, Timone will be able to stand and watch while Dante plays football, press a special button to call 911 if Dante is home alone and falls into a diabetic coma and provide other support — all while following along without the need for a leash.
"He won't get distracted, he'll only pay attention to me," said Dante. "He won't be veering off at all."
To help the Morrissettes pay off the remainder of their bill for Timone, the family has set up an online donations page. People and groups can make a donation online.