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Nursing Program Pins 4-Legged Classmate

Sara Lynn James says her one-year-old diabetic alert dog, Hope, has changed her life dramatically for the better since she first got her July 2, 2012.GREENVILLE—The Pitt Community College nursing program held a pinning ceremony at Koinonia Christian Center May 7 to celebrate its largest graduating class ever – 96 students.

Technically, though, there was a 97th student, and her name was Hope. Wearing a fur coat, instead of the traditional white nursing uniform, she really didn’t look like her classmates, but she’s been one of them for the previous academic year.

A one-year-old Fox Red Lab, Hope is a diabetic alert dog. Her job is to keep her owner, soon-to-be nursing graduate Sara Lynn James, aware of changes in her blood sugar levels.

For the past 18 years, James has dealt with Type I Diabetes. Since July 2, she has relied upon Hope’s keen sense of smell to warn her when her blood sugar rises too high or falls too low. In fact, James says, Hope has woken her up in the middle of the night “multiple times” with a paw and nose nudge when her blood sugar has fallen dangerously low.

"I never thought I could love a four-legged creature as much as I love Hope,” the 21-year-old James says. “She is not only my pet but my lifesaver as well.”

James says Hope has become a part of the PCC nursing family in her three semesters on the job, so it seemed only natural to have her pinned last week.

“Having Hope beside me on Tuesday night when I was pinned as a nurse meant more to me than you could ever imagine, because she is such a huge part of my life now,” James said.