NEW YORK - When Judge Howard Sturim is on the bench Barney the 3.5 year old Irish doodle sits quietly and serves an important purpose.
“When I go low blood sugar or high blood sugar, he’ll sit there, look at me, paw me and if I don’t respond he’ll jump on me,” Judge Sturim said.
Judge Sturim was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 20 years ago. His body produces very little insulin - a hormone that regulates blood sugar. It can be dangerous if his levels get too low or too high. Barney who went through extensive training is able to help. The diabetic-alert dog uses his sense of smell to detect subtle changes in the judge’s breath or body odor.
“Barney is an investment in my health,” he said. “I get to be more aggressive with my insulin and therefore my sugars are better and that’s in the long run, a great asset.”
So wherever the Judge goes...Barney follows. That includes the golf course, baseball game and he even sits in the front seat when they’re on the road.
Judge Sturim has presided over about 40 jury trials where no one ever knows Barney is under the bench but there was one time when when Barney sneezed and his collar made a noise that’s when the judge decided he should tell people in the jury box they weren’t imagining things.
But Judge Sturim isn’t the only one who Barney has helped. Defense attorney Ed Galison is a type 1 diabetic.
“The dog comes and gives me its paw,” Galison said. “You know the dog tricks.”
He quickly learned they weren’t tricks. His levels were low and Barney prevented what could’ve been a bad episode.
Call him a man’s best friend, a lifesaver or maybe even both!