NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY - Ginger the Golden Retriever is more than just a dog - she is now a guardian for one local women. For two year,s Ginger has trained to become a diabetic service dog. She knows more than 40 commands and uses her sense of smell to detect when her owner's blood sugar is crashing or soaring to dangerous levels.
Richard and Sue Bartholomew have had Ginger for about a month. They got her from a special program called Eyes Ears Nose and Paws.
"She's doing a wonderful job, and they are so magnificent in their training," said Sue Bartholomew.
Each day Ginger and Sue practice different commands and routines. Ginger can open the refrigerator to get a juice box if Sue's blood sugar dips to low, and she can also grab Sue's test kit and bring it to her. Sue has fainted before because of blood sugar problems. If that were to happen now, Ginger would know what to do.
First she would look for Sue's husband, Richard.
"If he's at home and I am not responding, she will go get help, she will go find him," said Sue.
If Dick isn't home, Ginger will then head for the phone.
"She's trained to dial numbers on a special phone to dial 911," said Dick.
When first responders arrive, Ginger is trained to open doors for them using a pull rope. This wonder dog was made possible through the generosity of the Bartholomews's neighbors.
"One of them approached me and asked if I would mind if she could have a garage sale for me," said Sue.
The garage sale was incredibly successful, bringing in around $5,000 to help pay for Ginger. Now, Ginger and Sue are attached at the hip.
"Wherever I am, that's where she is," said Sue.
This gives her husband, Dick, peace of mind.
"It's very comforting, you know," said Dick. "You know that Ginger is there and will alert her and hopefully Susie is able to take care of any problems that arise by herself."
Ginger isn't the only one that is keeping up on training. Sue has to take tests and check in with trainers on a regular basis. This is to ensure that Ginger is being used to her full extent. The Bartholomews say Ginger has turned out to be more than just a service dog.
"Oh yes, I just love her to death!" said Sue.