He saved for four years, but the bond between Aiden and his service dog is priceless.
When Aiden Heath was four years old, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Shortly after his diagnosis, he learned that there are special service dogs trained to monitor glucose levels in diabetics. These early-alert canines use their incredible sense of smell to detect low or rapidly dropping blood glucose 20 to 30 minutes before a blood meter.
Aiden was instantly struck by the idea and told his mom, Jenni Heath, that he wanted his very own early-alert canine. With a service animal costing around $15,000, Jenni encouraged her son to start saving his pennies.
And that's exactly what he did. For the next four years, Aiden saved every single penny he came across. He toted his savings around in a little red wagon he nicknamed "Brinks."
This past April, Aiden had collected an incredible $6,000. While an impressive sum, the eight-year-old wasn't yet halfway to his goal. But then a local news station caught wind of what he was doing. They ran coverage about Aiden's lifelong dream to have his own service dog, and his story touched the hearts of thousands of people.
In only a few days, strangers from across the country chipped in, and Aiden's savings soared. He had raised over $20,000.
Jenni used the money to put a down payment on a service dog in Nevada. She found Angel, a chocolate Labrador that had recently completed her training. After following Angel's progress via videos and pictures, the mother-son duo knew that Angel was meant to be.
After four long years of waiting, Aiden finally met Angel on October 10. Jenni told ABC News,
"Aiden is over the moon. He was on pins and needles waiting for her."
After an exciting encounter at the airport, Aiden took Angel to her new home. The new friends are now working with a trainer to get to know each other. Angel is adjusting to her new role, and Aiden is learning how to give Angel commands.
It's already obvious that Aiden and Angel will be inseparable best friends. For Jenni, the friendship between her son and his dog gives her the peace of mind she hasn't had since Aiden's diagnosis. She said,
"We have been so amazed by the outpouring of support. He is feeling the love...There are no words."
All images via ABC News