After much anticipation and fundraising, the Dereck Bly family welcomed the newest member of their family Monday morning.
Dayrah is a four-month-old yellow Labrador retriever, specially trained as a diabetic alert dog, or D.A.D. As part of the Bly family, she will serve as an early warning to Dereck’s blood sugar highs and lows.
“Dayrah” is named after the village of Deh Rawood where Dereck was stationed in Afghanistan. Derek was deployed in 2008 and spent almost a year training Afghanistan National Police in paramilitary tactics as part of a 12-man Special Forces police mentor team.
But not long after he returned he experienced excessive thirst, insomnia, and weight loss—around 30 pounds in a just a few weeks. A trip to the VA hospital confirmed he had Type 1 diabetes. 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.
At around 9:00 am, Erin Gray of Service Retrievers by Warren pulled up. Family and friends had joined the Blys as part of the welcoming committee. It didn’t take long for Dayrah to make friends with Dereck, his wife Daphney, and their four-year-old daughter Addilyn.
At first glance, Dayrah looks like any other lovable yellow Lab puppy. But that is where the glance ends.
Dayrah can detect high and low blood sugar 20 minutes before a meter can pick it up. When Dereck’s blood sugar is low, she gives him a nudge. If it is too high, she gives him a paw. If he should become unresponsive, she can be trained to press a special 911 button that dials a pre-recorded message. “It’s sort of like the ‘Help I’ve fallen and can’t get up’ button,” explained Gray.
As part of Dayrah’s continuing education, trainers return to the Bly home every 90 days for two years. Dayrah will also learn Dereck’s acceptable glucose range which he has established as between 90-160.
Although Dayrah officially belongs to the Blys, she still has a price tag.
Over the past year the Blys have had several fundraising efforts which have placed them at $8,000 of $24,000. “We will have more fundraisers in the near future, so look at our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HelpDereck and read the local news for information,” said Daphney.
“Basically our payment is $8,000 a year for three years,” Daphney explained. “They will work with us, they aren’t going to repossess the dog, but we have to come up with that much each year. All we ask is that those who can help to pitch in. Dereck served his country well and under extremely dangerous situations. We are just hoping the community can come to his defense as well.”
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.”