Thirteen-year-old Deven Rusnak did not have a good night. His blood glucose level dipped dangerously low not once, but twice.
He had a much better Sunday morning. Shortly after 9 a.m., a furry lifesaver named Blaze arrived at his Timberline Drive home in Bayville.
"I love him!" Deven said, as his diabetes alert dog from Virginia-based Warren Retrievers wandered around the front lawn, then plunked down on the grass and nibbled a neon-green rubber ball with spikes.
Blaze's arrival at his new home was the end of a by his mother, Sherry Kriss-Dillane, stepfather Frank Dillane, his father, Christopher Rusnak, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. and a number of other township residents and local businesses to raise enough money to buy the puppy.
"I'm so excited," Sherry Dillane said. "This is awesome, all the support."
Blaze will be by Deven's side constantly - even when he sleeps - to detect when his blood glucose level is too low or too high. He will lift his paw and touch Deven or a family member if it's too low, or nudge them with his nose if it's too high, said Warren Retrievers trainer Cheri Campell.
Last night was a night of lows.
Sherry Dillane posted a message to diabetes on her Facebook page this morning, shortly before Blaze arrived.
"YOU make US so tired that again OUR SON called us on my cell and WE didn't hear it again..YOU DIABETES are well aware that those LOWS CAN TAKE OUR SON'S LIFE.. But guess what? WE ARE BRINGING IN THE TROOPS TODAY! LAST NIGHT WAS IT! YOU WILL NOT CONQUER anymore! WE HAVE SOMEONE MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU! COMBINED, WITH HIS FAMILY AND BLAZE...YOU will NEVER WIN! Last night was the END of playing by YOUR RULES!"
. Type 1 diabetes is not pretty. Deven or a family member must test his blood glucose level up to a dozen times a day and adjust his food and insulin intake if necessary.
Warren Retrievers trainers will be in town for the next three days to continue training Blaze and acclimating the family to the puppy. will have to feed the pup out of his hand for two weeks so Blaze becomes used to Deven's scent.
Kenneth Anderson and some company fire members showed up with the trucks to meet Blaze and learn how they can help as first responders.
"As he gets older, he'll be able to dial 911," Campbell told the firefighters. "If you get a call and there's a dog in the background, it's not a prank. You need to send help immediately. Every minute counts."
And if Deven needs to go to the hospital, Blaze goes with him in the ambulance, Campbell said.
"His response is, 'This is my boy,' she said of the dog's mindset. "Take him away (Blaze) and it will be more of a problem."
Bayville firefighter Richard Straut listened intently as Campbell spoke. His two sons, ages 22 and 25, both have Type 1 diabetes.
"One was at college and went into a diabetic coma," he told Campbell.
Both of his sons, like Deven, wear insulin pumps, Straut said.
"One kid is very good, the other is all over the place," he said. "He has seizures."
Deven's father Chris Rusnak is already preparing for the visits Deven and Blaze will make.
"I've already started a little basket for him," Rusnak said. "He's already got some toys."
The Berkeley community rallied around the family and Dillane's quest to raise enough money for the cost of the dog, which is close to $22,000.
Dillane has been on a mission since January to get Deven his dog.
She held a in February. She sat outside Wal-Mart with educational materials and a can. She held medium readings in her Timberline home in Bayville. She sold T-shirts and bracelets.
Local businesses donated portions of the profits on given days to help with the roughly $22,000 price of the highly-trained dog. Residents in the senior communities chipped in.
Dillane is still raising money for the Blaze's aftercare costs, which include the 911 phone, neutering, and pet, life and house insurance for the puppy.