Presley and Her Family

When Will Long and his family found themselves in a new city, they needed a new safety net.

They stitched together their own high-tech, low-tech version, one relying on a specially trained service dog and AT&T Digital Life.

The beast – and it’s not the dog

Will Long took a job with AT&T in July 2013.  They left their hometown of Baltimore and moved to Richmond, Virginia with their kids.

Adrienne has Type 1 diabetes, which she calls “the beast.”

Adrienne was only 12 when doctors diagnosed Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong affliction. Adrienne takes insulin to prevent her blood glucose levels from damaging tissues or threatening her life.

“After 23 years, I don’t feel the symptoms of high and low blood sugar anymore. You can’t be in complete control with this disease. It’s manageable, but unpredictable,” Adrienne said. “I’ve been through what I consider the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Some of the blood-sugar swings leave Adrienne shaky and sick. Other times it is worse. “What scares me is I have found her unconscious before. She was three months pregnant with our son. That’s something I’ll never forget,” Will said.

An on-point solution?

One day Will happened to see a yellow Labrador wearing a vest that said “Diabetic Alert Dog.”

The owner explained that her dog warned her when her blood-sugar levels dropped or spiked. Will was skeptical.

Adrienne also was wary about the support-dog system, thinking she might prefer to keep her invisible disease invisible.

Presley: no ordinary dog 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A few days later Will was at work. He phoned Adrienne, who was at home with their young daughter. He couldn’t reach her.

“I jumped into my car and sure enough, Adrienne was kind of in and out of it. She had almost passed out from a low blood sugar level,” he said.

Before long, they had Presley, a beautiful black Lab puppy with an impressive skill set. “She was alerting us to low and high blood sugars within 20 minutes. It was unbelievable,” Will said.

Presley nudges Adrienne with her nose if her blood sugar is too low. Too high and she gives Adrienne her paw. “In the middle of the night, if there is a problem, she will first try to wake up Adrienne. Then she will jump on me. The dog is always on target,” Will said.

When Presley is in public with Adrienne, she is on the job. The kids don’t pet her. However, at home, Presley is a beloved pet as well as a health-care consultant.

This Digital Life

Even with Presley on the job, Will calls Adrienne several times a day. He doesn’t always reach her.

So when AT&T offered Digital Life in Richmond in the fall of 2013, Will was the first person to sign up.

Will was interested in Digital Life’s security options, including the cameras. Now when he cannot reach Adrienne by phone, Will uses his mobile app to activate the cameras in their open-concept home. Adrienne is usually involved with the kids, Trey, 9, and Kaitlyn, 4.

Will and Adrienne are teaching Kaitlyn to push the Digital Life emergency button if Adrienne isn’t talking or acting in her normal manner. Trey, who appreciates having his own key code, already knows what to do if Adrienne slurs her words or becomes lethargic.

Neighbors and emergency responders also can use the key codes to enter the house without breaking down the door.

Spreading the word

Meanwhile, Adrienne is healthier than ever and she has a new job. Presley goes with her to work, helps pick up the kids from school and goes on family vacations. Presley also sleeps with Adrienne and Will.

“Digital Life has paid for itself in gold, for sure. And Presley has saved Adrienne on several occasions. Having the dog and Digital Life gives me peace of mind I’ve never had before,” Will said.