Employee Spotlight: Jonathan Kunkle and His Service Dog, Ziva

Jonathan and Ziva Kunkle

September 20, 2019 | Category: News

Meet Jonathan and Ziva Kunkle. Jonathan has been an employee of Cetronia Ambulance Corps since 1998 where he began his career as an EMT. Ziva has been his sidekick, a.k.a. service dog, since May 2018 and for a pretty good reason. Sadly, Jonathan was diagnosed with diabetes on his 12th birthday in 1987. Over the years his diabetes has escalated to such an extreme level that he needs dialysis on a regular basis.

Service dogs are truly amazing animals. Ziva is trained to help detect high and low blood sugar levels in humans. Prior to the start of Jonathan’s dialysis treatments, he had severe low blood sugars and very few high levels. More recently, since he began using Peritoneal Dialysis, he is having more high blood sugars due to the PD Fluid being made up of different concentrations of dextrose, which is used to pull excess fluid waste from his body. Ziva has been trained to come to Jonathan and not leave his side until his sugar stabilizes. “It is funny how people do not see this as an achievable goal. On several occasions the operations supervisors, such as Mike LaPearl, have noticed Ziva following me around. Once I check my sugar, I find it in the low 50s or 60s,” said Kunkle.

At home it’s no different. Jonathan’s wife has had Ziva wake her up at night to check on him even though his dialysis room where he sleeps is in the basement and Ziva sleeps upstairs with his wife and children. Ziva is able to smell his sugar scent and then after getting someone up she sits and waits by the basement door for someone to let her down to be with him.

Ziva not only comes to work at Cetronia Ambulance Corps for every shift Jonathan works, but she also frequents the dialysis center with Jonathan twice a month and goes with him to most doctor appointments. She rides in the passenger seat of his vehicles, and has alerted him on several occasions of having low blood sugars while driving by placing her head into his lap.

“I don’t know what I would do without Ziva. Although I hope that one day I will not only receive a kidney transplant, but a pancreas transplant as well to end my dialysis treatments and the need for my insulin pump. I feel I will always need Ziva, she is my four-legged angel that helps get me through most of my troubled times,” said Kunkle.

At work, crews can always find her laying on her bed right behind Jonathan at the P2 Position, where he currently works in the Cetronia Ambulance Corps Communications Center at night. Supervisor LaPearl noted, “Ziva is more than just a therapy dog for Jonathan. She is a therapy dog for everyone that works here. This dog boosts our employee’s morale just by her presence. She knows when our crews are having a rough day/night and she cheers them up just by letting them shower her with affection.”

Getting to Know Us:

Name: Ziva Kunkle
Position: Service Dog
Age: 18 Months
Breed: Chocolate Lab
Favorite Treat: Whatever my dad’s work partner, Brian Rabenold, gets from The Dining Dog & Friends bakery
Loves: Her Uncle Joe
Hates: Sirens
Work History: Started Memorial Day Weekend 2018 at Cetronia Ambulance Corps
Certifications: Diabetic Service Training with Federal Clearances for Travel

Name: Jonathan L. Kunkle
Nickname: Jonny Knuckles
Position: Controller
Age: 43
Hometown: Slatington
Work History: Started at Cetronia Ambulance Corps on February 19, 1998; 21 years ago!
High school/College: Palmerton High School / Some LCCC College
Favorite Food: Corn on the Cob
Favorite Sports Team: Not a fan!
I’d like to meet: Vin Diesel
Recent great read: Favorite Book “Catch the Lightning” By Catherine Asaro
Hobbies: Camping and Motorcycles
Do you have any other pets? Yes, a 9-year old black Lab named Mitzy
Can’t live without: Dialysis Machine and Insulin Pump
Who is your hero? My Father, Dennis Kunkle; Deceased
One super hero power you’d like to have: I would like to see 30 minutes into the future
Biggest fear: Dying
What did you want to be when you grew up? Computers/Electronics Engineer
Favorite type of music: All Types: Pop, Country, Disney, Celtic … just to name a few
I collect: Hot Wheels
Favorite movie actor/actress: Vin Diesel
What is your favorite part of the job? Helping my fellow Controllers figure out how to move the most patients with the staff at Cetronia Ambulance Corps

Jonathan and Ziva

Jonathan and Ziva