Photo Credit: BackaBuddy - Supplied

2-year-old Jenna-Mae will spend the rest of her life managing her Type 1 Diabetes but to make things easier while she is young, she needs an alert dog; her dog is a rescue!


Krugersdorp, South Africa (15 June 2022) – 2-year-old Jenna-Mae or Miss Mae, to her family; she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in September 2021. Her family has done extensive research, and because she is too young to communicate accurately if she feels ill, they have looked at bringing a diabetic alert dog into their home. They started the process of finding a dog and today have the sweetest rescue.

One of the ways to put parents at ease is to bring an alert dog into the home. Alert dogs are specially trained and can sniff out drops and spikes in sugar before anyone else is even aware there may be a problem.

The family are working with Lucy Breytenbach from Honey’s Garden alert dogs. They launched a crowdfund to pay for the potential dog and extensive training needed to make sure the dog was trained to Jenna-Mae’s exact needs.

Lucy Breytenbach founded Honey’s Garden for Medical Alert Dogs in 2014 after a plea from a family with a diabetic son approached her for help. Lucy researched and found that there were no service dogs available in South Africa, and she decided to change that.

Today she pairs dogs with families, making sure the dog is well-suited to the medical need but also to the family. Lucy trains Diabetic Alert Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs, Hearing Dogs for the Deaf, Multi-Purpose Assistance Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs.

Saving a Rescue, Saving Two Lives

Jenna-Mae’s crowdfund was fully funded, and the process of her dog search began. Jenna-Mae has been paired with a rescue! Often, these types of dogs come from specialised breeds, born with characteristics that work well with being a working dog, but every once in a while, Lucy finds a rescue dog that has all the traits needed to become a working dog.

Her mom Cherise van der Vyver, shared the happy update with all those who helped fund their daughter’s special dog.

“Hello all our backabuddy friends & family!

I think it is time for an update on Jenna-Mae and her “DAD” journey (Diabetic Alert Dog). Thank you to each and every one of you, we managed to raise the funds very quickly which meant training at Honey’s Garden could kick off very quickly!

There were initially three lovely sighthound (greyhound) pups up for consideration, but we are happy to say it looks like Jenna-Mae will be getting a gorgeous young female pup named Isla. Isla is ALSO a rescue from Sighthound Rescue and Lucy from Honey’s Garden always tries her best to save dogs that would otherwise not have home. Double win!!

Isla is a very cuddly dog with a gentle nature but is also a very active and playful pup. Isla is in a wonderful foster home now busy with training and has already completed a very successful puppy training year. Our very smart puppy has now started full-time “hero training” to be a qualified service dog.

Part of the process will also be sending down frozen saliva samples from Jenna-Mae so that Isla can get used to the scent of Jenna-Mae’s “highs” & “lows”. We are getting there people! It is becoming so real!

Please consider making a donation towards Honey’s Garden Guide dogs so that they can help & save many other people and canines alike. They do remarkable work every day. Thanks again to each and every single person. We are so thankful, more than words will ever express! Will keep you posted. Many blessings xxxx Jenna-Mae, Isla and the other van der Vyvers”

The update is a heartwarming one! The funds raised for this will go towards Isla’s training, and the additional funds will keep the family well-stocked with Freestyle Libre sensor devices, which are able to read Jenna-Mae’s sugar levels more accurately and less painfully. These devices cost R1000 and last up to 14 days.

You can find out more about the work Lucy does at Honey’s Garden Medical Alert Dogs here.

Sources: BackaBuddy – Update
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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