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Students Find Comfort in Four-Legged Companions

In the middle of the night when Andrew Golden’s blood sugar falls dangerously low, his corgi service dog jumps on the bed, pounces on top of him and alerts him that it’s time to take his insulin. 


Bandit alerts Golden when his sugar levels are too low. Photo courtesy of Andrew Golden

The black and white spotted corgi named Bandit has allowed Golden, a UT sophomore, to continue living his preferred lifestyle despite his diabetes. As a hypoglycemic diabetic, Golden has had to constantly monitor his blood sugar levels and make his health a top priority. However, since Bandit became his diabetic alert dog, Golden no longer relies on blood glucose meters, a process that would require him to constantly prick his fingers up to 10 to 12 times a day.

“My scent changes when my sugar [levels] drop,” Golden explained. “He has a sensitive enough nose and the training to be able to sense it and alert me.”

On Sept. 22, 2006, Bandit was born and took to Golden almost instantaneously. “I actually brought Bandit into this world,” Golden said. “I cut his umbilical cord.”

Golden’s family has been breeding Cardigan Welsh Corgis as show dogs for quite some time now. Golden initially wanted to train Bandit for show purposes, however, their bond delved far deeper than dog and master. 

Bandit has become an integral part of Golden’s everyday life. From the cafeteria to Morsani, Bandit can be spotted alongside Golden keeping up with his every stride. Golden, however, draws a fine line when it comes to just how much time he spends with his furry companion. As a biology student, Golden opts out of bringing Bandit along with him to his required lab instructions.


Toby assits Hamilton when her arthritis flares up. Photo courtesy of Olivia-Jean Hamilton

“Working with chemicals like formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid [in a lab], is not the best place for a puppy to be,” Golden said. “So, there are periods of time for sheer logistic and safety reasons that I will not bring him with me.”

But in other instances, like when it comes to making new friends, Bandit is definitely an asset. On most occasions, Golden and Bandit can’t make it through the Vaughn lobby without being stopped at least once by a passerby. And, when it comes to the opposite sex Bandit is most definitely a lady-killer.

“He makes it so easy to pick up women and it doesn’t do me a bit damn of good,” Golden said. 

For other students, like Olivia-Jean Hamilton, having a four-legged friend may not have necessarily improved her love life, but has proven to enhance her overall personal life.

“When you have bad days it’s harder to get out and do things,” Hamilton explained. “But when you have a dog you have to go out. So, you have no choice but to appreciate things because of your dog.”

On the surface, Hamilton appears to be what most would consider normal. The UT junior is statuesque with long, blond locks and piercing blue eyes. But at the age of 10, Hamilton was diagnosed with arthritis, an ailment that has caused her to have inflammation from head to toe and high anxiety. Her goldendoodle service dog, Toby, is currently in the process of being trained to keep her calm and lend an extra paw or two when her arthritis is inflamed.

This past November, Hamilton began working with a certified trainer to teach Toby the skills necessary to perform as a service dog, a process that Hamilton says has strengthened their bond. “I think, service dogs are the future of America,” Hamilton said. “Toby has changed my everyday life.”

Kai Miller can be reached at

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