Mocha soon to be ‘big dog on campus’

May 27, 2014 

Jordan Malcott and her diabetic alert dog, Mocha Mocha Latte, will likely attend classes at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon this fall.

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If things go according to plan, Mocha Mocha Latte will be attending classes at Tattnall Square Academy this fall.

Mocha will be the lone four-legged member in the Class of 2015. She will walk the halls, go to all the football games and be the only chocolate Lab in the science lab.

She won’t have to study for the SAT, either.

The SIT, maybe, but not the SAT.

Jordan Malcott, a rising senior, will be Tattnall’s drum major next year. She has held fundraisers, launched Facebook campaigns and used her birthday money to round up the $18,000 she will need to bring the medical service dog to her home in Lizella. (Right now, she’s about $3,000 short of her goal.)

Her mother, Karen, laughs and reminds her daughter the dog costs almost twice as much as what she paid for her first car, a brand new 1985 Buick Regal.

But the value of the Labrador retriever is not something the Malcott family can put a price tag on.

The dog could save Jordan’s life.

Mocha Mocha Latte may sound like something on the menu at Starbucks or Jittery Joe’s, but she is what is known as a D.A.D. -- a Diabetic Alert Dog.

She has been trained to identify the changes in a diabetic’s blood chemistry that often occur during rapid swings in blood sugar levels.

Jordan turned 17 years old on May 12 and was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic when she was 12. She is classified as a brittle diabetic, which affects just 9,000 people in the U.S.

Her blood sugar is sometimes like a runaway kite. It soars too high and stubbornly refuses to come down. Or it dips too low and will not come back up. If it drops below 50, it can cause seizures. If it sinks below 35, it can cause brain damage.

The dog’s highly sensitive scent capability can detect these dramatic shifts even before they occur. It is trained to place a paw on the diabetic’s leg as a warning.

That’s the kind of reassurance the family wants.

“Jordan used to be able to tell when she was slipping, but it had gotten to the point where she couldn’t feel it,” Karen said. “It can be really dangerous.”

Jordan has to prick her finger almost a dozen times a day to get readings and monitor her blood sugar. She gives herself insulin shots and carries a glucose meter in her pocket. If she had as many needles sticking out of her as she has stuck in her, she could be a porcupine.

Jordan missed 50 days of school this year, and she is having to make up some of her work in summer school. It is not unusual for her to end up at the hospital every couple of weeks.

She had one scary episode when she blacked out after driving to school one morning. Another time, her parents found her unresponsive in bed and had to call an ambulance.

Mocha was located through a breeder in South Carolina. Once the bonding began, then the funding became important. They put down a deposit on the dog and sought creative ways to start paying off the balance, which is not covered by medical insurance.

The Malcotts are both teachers in Bibb County. Karen is a P.E. instructor at Jesse Rice Elementary, and her husband, Bill, teaches social studies at Westside High School.

More information about how to make a contribution to Jordan’s efforts can be found on Facebook and www.youcaring.com. (On youcaring.com, search for Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD) for Jordan.)

Local donations can be made at the MidSouth Federal Credit Union at 4810 Mercer University Drive. (Checks should be made to Jordan Malcott with “diabetic dog fund” listed in the memo section.)

There are plans for Mocha to go off to college with Jordan after next year, but first things first.

For now, she will be content in her role as the big dog on campus. Let’s all hope she graduates with honors.

Contact Gris at 744-4275 or egrisamore@macon.com.

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