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We are such an amazing breed! Today I found the following article in our local newspaper.  I’m not sure that my sniffing qualities are as good, but then I am just a humble gundog…

The dog who can sniff out a diabetic attack

A helping paw - Elizabeth Wilkinson with her alert dog which can sniff out a diabetic attack
A helping paw – Elizabeth Wilkinson with her alert dog which can sniff out a diabetic attack

RICHARD PARR

19 March 2009 05:12

Devoted dog Chushla potentially saves her owner’s life every week – by smelling the onset of a diabetic attack.

The Bedlington-whippet cross detects a scent when Elizabeth Wilkinson’s blood sugar levels drop dangerously low – up to three times a week – and nibbles her hand to alert her.

Elizabeth, 54, of Southery, near Downham Market, a Type-1 diabetic for over 40 years, has one of just six registered hypoalert dogs in Britain which can smell an oncoming hypoglycaemic attack.

When Chushla showed that she was able to sense and alert Elizabeth to an oncoming hypo attack she contacted the charity Cancer & Bio detection Dogs which specialises in training diabetic assistance dogs.

With support of the charity’s co-founder, Claire Guest, who was able to fine-tune Chushla’s alerting procedure, the pet is now a fully-fledged hypo alert dog .

She now accompanies Elizabeth everywhere she goes as her “guardian angel”.

Chushla first showed off her talent when she was just 10-weeks-old. One night when Elizabeth was asleep, Chushla jumped on her bed and started frantically nibbling at her neck to wake her up.

Elizabeth realised that her dog had alerted her to a oncoming hypo attack.

Two days later Chushla repeated this nibbling behaviour during the day and when Elizabeth checked her blood sugar levels she found they had dropped massively.

She said : “When I first got Chushla I had a very bad hypo attack during which I felt the need for live comfort and I cuddled up with her until I felt better. This was only a few days before she first alerted me to a hypo. May be it was something she picked up on as not being good and it set her mothering instinct in motion.”

Elizabeth started to reward Chushla each time she gave an alert and so her dog was trained to be a reliable hypo alert dog.

Because Elizabeth has suffered from diabetes for so long, she has become desensitised to the warning signs of hypos which is why Churchla is so important to her. It means she now has the courage to lead a normal independent life.

“She has given me my freedom to go out when I wish and Chushla wears her working jacket with pride,” she said.

Elizabeth explained that her dog has been reliably alerting her for 18 months for hypos (low blood sugar) and 12 months for hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), in effect acting as an assistance dog.

Churchla gives Elizabeth about 10 to 15 minutes warning of an attack which gives her enough time to eat something to raise her blood sugar levels.

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