Pawsi­tive think­ing: bio-de­tec­tive solves di­a­betes case

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others -

A Labrador who sniffs out her di­a­betic owner’s blood su­gar spikes has be­come a life-sav­ing watch­dog.

Dot­tie is a med­i­cal alert as­sis­tance dog and lives with 10-yearold Jack Hales who has Type One di­a­betes.

Jack was di­ag­nosed when he was four and can suf­fer from hy­po­gly­caemia – where blood glu­cose drops so low that un­con­scious­ness and fits can oc­cur – or hy­per­gly­caemia, where blood su­gar surges too high.

Jack’s fam­ily, from Sut­ton Va­lence, had to quickly gain a deep un­der­stand­ing of the con­di­tion, and mum Heather Mansell, 51, vis­ited Jack’s school, Head­corn Pri­mary, to show teach­ers how to in­ject Jack with in­sulin.

A break­through came when Heather’s nephew men­tioned how dogs could de­tect dis­eases like can­cer and di­a­betes through sub­tle changes in body odour.

Heather said: “Jack was fright- ened of dogs, but still looked into the Med­i­cal De­tec­tion Dogs (MDD) char­ity, and wrote to them ask­ing if he could have an alert dog.

“At the time, we could only say to Jack that the char­ity prob­a­bly had hun­dreds of peo­ple writ­ing to it. But he re­ceived a re­ply on Christ­mas Eve 2015 to say he would be get­ting a dog – the best present ever.”

Af­ter MDD matched Dot­tie with Jack, the fam­ily went to meet her in Oc­to­ber at the char­ity’s Mil­ton Keynes base. Su­per­vised train­ing then took place with in­struc­tor Ly­dia Swan­son be­fore Dot­tie joined mum and son, dad An­drew and older brother Tom, 15.

Heather said: “The bond be­tween them is amaz­ing. She lit­er­ally ‘guards’ him and it is un­be­liev­able what she can do.

“If Jack has a ‘hypo’ in the night she will wake us by paw­ing the bed. If she gets no re­sponse she will jump onto the bed. She al­ways recog­nises the dan­ger sig­nals – some­times be­fore Jack does. She re­ally is a life­saver.

“I never used to sleep prop­erly be­cause I was al­ways wor­ried Jack could be in dan­ger. Now I sleep bet­ter as I know Dot­tie will alert us if some­thing hap­pens.”

Dot­tie rests while Jack is at school and en­joys every­thing a nor­mal dog does – walkies, eat­ing and lots of at­ten­tion.


Jack Hales and de­tec­tion dog Dot­tie, who alerts the fam­ily if his blood su­gar gets too high or too low


Jack, Dot­tie and Paula Carr worker Ros De­bling

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