John Carswell For the Daily Union
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — Shelbyville native Derek Bly deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and spent almost a year training Afghanistan National Police in paramilitary tactics. It was dangerous work in the south of Afghanistan, facing possible death each time he knocked on a door. “We faced it all,” he said.
Bomb-sniffing dogs trained to detect IED’s helped make the searches a little safer and may have saved his life on more than one occasion. “We had three dog handlers who went out with us on our searches,” he said.
Bly thought his return home would signal a return to normalcy. He was looking forward to holding his four-month-old daughter Addilyn, born while he was in Afghanistan, being with his wife again and going to work.
But not long after Bly returned he soon faced another life-threatening situation that he could not escape—Type 1 diabetes. Dereck was first diagnosed at 21 and is now 25. Addilyn is now four and old enough to appreciate her daddy’s daily battle.
Diabetes doesn’t run in his family and he does not connect it in any way to his military service. “It just happened,” he explained.
Bly said he was thirsty all the time, couldn’t sleep, and began losing weight, around 30 pounds in a just a few weeks. A trip to the VA hospital confirmed his fears. His wife, Daphney is a nurse and had already noticed some of the symptoms.
Now, Bly needs a D.A.D. No, not another father but a specially trained dog called a D.A.D. (Diabetic Alert Dog) that can detect high and low levels of blood glucose. He currently wears an insulin pump that attempts to maintain optimum insulin levels, but science has yet to create anything more sensitive than the nose of a dog.
Bly can recognize when his blood sugar is low, but high levels are harder for him to detect.
Daphney commented, “I make him check his blood sugar multiple times a day, but having a Diabetic Service Dog will provide our family with a long-term sense of safety and security, knowing that high and low levels will be sensed and alerted to, even before his meter can read the change.”
Enter Dayrah. Dayrah is a three-month-old yellow Labrador retriever named after the village of Deh Rawood where Dereck was part of a 12-man Special Forces police mentor team. Dayrah is being trained by Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers in Orange, VA. Dayrah can already detect high and low blood sugars by sniffing the skin and smelling breath. The Bly’s will receive her on August 26, but dogs like this do not come cheap.
So far they have raised $5,000 toward her $24,000 price tag and are asking for your help.
“Dereck served his country with distinction and now we are only asking for some people to come forward and help him out,” said Daphney. “Dayrah will be trained to wake him up in the night; to dial a 911 button in case of emergency; retrieve a diabetic drink from the refrigerator, his glucometer, and alert other family members if there is trouble.”
As part of the fundraising effort, the Bly’s are hosting a spaghetti supper at Shelby Christian Church on August 14th at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Kids eat for only $5.00. Meal includes spaghetti, garlic bread, a drink and dessert. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling 217-254-5034. Deadline for advance tickets is August 12.
Daphney advised, “Dayrah will be delivered even if the goal is not met, but the balance has to be paid by us out of our own pockets. Any and all help is appreciated.”
Checks can also be made payable to Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers, PO Box 910 Orange, VA 22960. Be sure to make a notation in the memo portion of the check that it is for Dereck Bly.
Daphney further added, “If you are interested in planning an event to help raise funds, please feel free to contact us directly at 217.254.5034.”