A medical detection dog trained to prevent his owner from slipping into a hypo has been handed an ‘animal OBE’.
Pal (pictured), a black Labrador, has prevented his owner Claire Pearson from having a hypoglycemic attack thousands of times during their seven-year partnership.
In recognition of his emergency skills, the eight-year-old dog was handed an Order of Merit, by animal charity PDSA at a ceremony at Leeds Castle in Kent.
The prestigious award recognises animals for their outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society.
Claire said: “He is trained to fetch my blood sugar monitor, glucose, insulin and will even bring me my phone if I need it. If I’m too ill to help myself, Pal will fetch someone or push our panic button at home, which alerts the emergency services.”
The mother of two has coped with brittle diabetes, a term used to describe hard-to-control diabetes, since birth. She was hypo unaware and in 2003 received the news that she had end-stage renal failure and required a kidney and pancreas transplant.
Depression led Claire to seek help. She contacted Medical Detection Dogs who introduced her to Pal. Straightaway the 16-month-old pup got to work recognising chemical changes in Claire’s breath and preventing hypos as she slept.
She told Kent Online: “Having Pal gave me the confidence to leave the house again. I started joining local fundraising activities and even giving talks about how wonderful Pal is and how he’s helped me reclaim my life.”
Following a kidney and pancreas transplant last year, Pal now works to spot signs of organ rejection in his beloved owner.
Claire said: “Since the transplant, on two occasions Pal has alerted me and when I’ve called the hospital, they have asked me to head straight in. Both times it turned out that my body was starting to act against my new pancreas, so Pal continues to save me to this day.
“I hope he will be able to retire soon. He is certainly slowing down now that he doesn’t need to watch me so closely and is enjoying lots more naps and sleepy cuddles than he did before my transplant.
“I am beyond proud of my amazing furry boy for what he has done for me and my family. He gave my sons their childhood back and gave me a whole new lease of life. His PDSA Order of Merit goes some way to showing him how much he means to our family and I hope that his story inspires others that are in the position I was in, that things can get better, with the love and talents of a clever pooch like Pal.”
Picture via KMTV