Matt Petrero – purpose2play.com
Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes is one of many second-generation players in the NHL. His father, Tie Domi, played over 1,000 games in the league as one of the toughest enforcers of his era. However, as tough as the elder Domi was, he cannot hold a candle to his offspring.
Max, who leads all rookies in goals (8) and is second in points (15), works his tail off to play well at this level. He has to in order to make it in the best hockey league in the world. If the work needed to be an NHL player isn’t difficult enough, he also has to work at managing his type-1 diabetes. Domi is insulin dependent and needs to check his blood sugar levels upward of 15-20 times a day. He even needs to check it during games and between periods.
Additionally, he has to schedule his meals for the same time every day to avoid dips in his levels. Managing diabetes is tough, but in the NHL, where schedules are tight and always in motion, it’s got to be almost impossible. So, one would think that Max sure could use some help from someone.
That someone is his best friend. And by best friend, I mean the four-legged, furry, kind with a cold, wet nose. Orion, a 2- year-old yellow Labrador Retriever is Domi’s service dog. He is trained to detect when Max’s blood sugar levels start dipping. According to Domi, Orion is about 99% accurate.
If the NHL star’s levels drop and he is either preoccupied, behind schedule, or sleeping, Orion leaps into action to warn his bestie that he needs to attend to his body. In the first two scenarios, Orion will go after a bringsel that Max keeps attached to his belt on his left hand side and pull on it with his mouth. If he detects a drop in blood levels while Max is asleep, he will stand on him and paw at his face if necessary.
As a dog-lover myself, I understand the emotional benefits that our furry best friends can have on our lives, That is not lost on Domi.
“In terms of Orion being along for the journey (in the NHL), it’s cool to share with him. When you’re trying to play at this level, you want to make sure you have everything you possibly can to feel your best so you’re only worrying about just playing hockey. He’s been great; he’s made me a better person and a better hockey player”, said Domi.
They say that dogs are man’s best friend. In the case of Max Domi, his dog is also his keeper and his inspiration. You might say that life without Orion might be a little RUFF for Domi. Sorry…I had to.