Program Makes Service Dogs More Affordable

A dog is man's best friend and a pup like Odin can also be a real lifesaver. A local group is making diabetic service dogs more affordable.

Zack Rotert looks like a typical 20-year-old, young, athletic, in college, but what you don't see is that Zack is a type 1 diabetic. “I've struggled just with dealing with it emotionally, like I didn't want it to hold me back or anything like that. I have struggled just being able to get up from class and I am doing Ironman in September," said Zack.

For years, diabetes has been taking a toll on the best parts of Zack's life. It was time for a change. “I talked about getting a service dog, but I knew it was like $25,000 and that's kind of, along with tuition and being an out-of-state student, it was too much to ask my parents to take on," said Zack.

“I didn't care, I was going to sell everything I owned to get a dog for him,” said his mother, Chris Rotert. Fortunately, a new program called Heads Up Hounds is making diabetic service dogs way more affordable. How? By using shelter dogs instead of purebreds.

“Odin was actually about four hours from being destroyed," said Jamie Cook, Heads Up Hounds.

After an alleged incident that involved the untimely death of an out of place feline, Odin was set to walk the “green mile.” That is, until Heads Up Hounds saw his potential. With a trainer, each dog is taught using saliva samples, given by the future donor, how to know when that person's blood sugar is too high or low. The dog will alert the person by bumping their hand.

Odin and Zack clicked immediately. “Actually the first night, he just kind of jumped into bed and got right in my face. It was actually kind of scary."

Two beings whose lives apart were going well, but together they've found the perfect balance to do what every young person and dog want to do, just live.

To learn more about Heads Up Hounds, visit their website at or give them a call at 402-867-2084

Heads Up Hounds fundraiser is just around the corner. On September 30, 2013 they are having a Yogurtini even at 48th Street and O Street in Lincoln. Fifteen percent of all sales that day will benefit Heads Up Hounds.

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