The slightest shock can plunge Michelle Sunderland into a coma.
But yelp is now at hand thanks to her faithful pooch Clive.
Michelle, 30, has Addison’s disease – a disorder of the adrenal gland that blocks production of the “fight or flight” hormone cortisol.
A sudden noise – like a 999 siren – can cause her cortisol levels to plunge.
It happened so often that life became an endless round of hospital admissions.
And five years ago – just a day after being released from hospital – she nearly died after collapsing in her bathroom.
Husband Kris got there just in time and rang 999. It was the culmination of two months of problems for Michelle.
And it was during her recovery that she and Kris noticed their cocker spaniel Clive, then aged nine months, had become really clingy.
He often licked Michelle’s mouth and pawed at her. “I found his behaviour really odd and a bit annoying,” she admitted.
It was on a trip to Crufts that Michelle found out about the charity Medical Detection Dogs, which told her Clive’s behaviour could be linked to her condition.
The charity trains dogs to alert Addison’s sufferers that they need to take medication.
Clive underwent months of training and, using his powerful sense of smell, was able to tell if Michelle’s cortisol levels had dropped.
He would then lick her to warn that she needed medication to stabilise her condition.
Michelle, a logistics worker from Thorngumbald, East Yorks, said: “My life was transformed. I have not been rushed to hospital since. Clive is happy because not only are his warnings heeded, he also gets a tasty treat every time.
“He’s my knight in shining armour. He never takes his eyes off me.
“He’s my best friend and right-hand man. He has given me back my freedom.”
Anna Trotignot, of Medical Detection Dogs, said: “We believe having a medical alert assistance dog may improve the safety, independence and confidence of a person living with a life-threatening health condition, allowing a better quality of life.”
- Visit medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk for more information. To find out if you meet the criteria for an assistance dog ring 01296 655888 or email [email protected]
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