A Golden Retriever puppy is being trained to alert an eight-year-old diabetes sufferer when her blood sugar levels get too high or too low.
Ellie May Hodges from Holywell in Flintshire was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just two years old.
The illness has impacted on her emotionally as well as physically but the introduction of her puppy, named Lilly, has helped her enormously.
Ellie May said: “She lets me give her cuddles and she always cheers my up when I’m sad. She’s going to be trained to wake me up in the night when I’m low or high, and then she’ll go and wake someone else up so they can help me if I need insulin in the night.”
Ellie’s 10-year-old sister Meghan has seen a big difference in her since Lilly arrived on the scene. “It’s really nice to see that Ellie’s mood is starting to improve with Lilly being here.”
The assistance dogs association, Can Do Canines, (https://can-do-canines.org/our-dogs/ourdogs/diabetes-assist-dogs/) explains how the dogs work: “Diabetes Assist Dogs are trained to monitor smells in the air for a specific scent on the human breath that is related to rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels.
“They are then trained to “alert” the person with diabetes, usually by touching them in a significant way such as pawing or nudging them. This alerts the person to check his or her blood sugar level.
“It also informs them that they should get something to eat to prevent hypoglycemia, or their blood sugars getting to a dangerous level. The canine partner can also be trained to retrieve juice or glucose tabs, get an emergency phone, or get help from another person in the house.”
The family are raising money for diabetes and assistance dog charities because they can see how Ellie has improved. Ellie herself says Lilly makes her feel “safe and happy”.
You can find more about diabetes care dogs here. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/hypo-alert-dogs.html