YUMA, Ariz. - Some people say a dog is a man's best friend. Well, this little pooch puts a whole new meaning behind being a loyal friend.
Meet Sugar. She is one of the only Chihuahuas to be successfully trained as a service dog.
Her owner, Tony Rouhotas Sr. and his wife brought her home because his wife wanted a lap dog.
"When Shelley started training her obedience-wise I fell in love with her," Rouhotas told News 11. "I couldn't stand Chihuahuas before that," he added.
Little did they know the impact this tiny but mighty pup would have on Tony's life.
"When she became three years old is when my diabetes became life threatening and that's when we sought a professional trainer," he shared.
Normally it takes service dogs two years to go through the training process. But Sugar completed it in only eight months.
"Three weeks after she completed her training is when she alerted for the first time," he said.
Rouhotas explained how Sugar is able to pick up on an emergency situation.
"When the body is injured or ill it tries to repair itself. If there's an infection, like a wound, the white blood cells head to that area and try to fight off that infection that's there. The immune system becomes more active and when all of this is going on internally, it changes the scent of your skin and that's what they [service dogs] pick up on," he said.
When Sugar detects a change in scent, meaning that Rouhotas' blood sugar has plummeted, she starts profusely licking his face to wake him up if he is unconscious or knows to go and get help.
"Sugar has literally saved my life six times and prevented me from going into a diabetic comma in the middle of the night," he said.
Rouhotas, who served in law enforcement for 29 years, working for the Imperial Valley, now has a four-legged friend who serves to keep him safe.
"One of her veterinarians went to a seminar in Wilmington, Delaware and it's where veterinarians all over the world come, just like doctors go to seminars to learn new things in different countries, and it was asked at that seminar if anyone knew of a Chihuahua being successfully trained as a service dog and nobody has even heard of one," he said.
Sugar got her name from Rouhotas' grandson, who named her after being the same color as brown sugar. Now, it seems to be no coincidence that Sugar is her name when it's her job to protect Rouhotas' blood sugar levels.
"She's my everything," he explained. "To have an animal literally save your life is overwhelming in itself, but to have one save your life six times is unbelievable," Rouhotas said.