A 12-year-old girl and her pet dog have forged a bond and understanding so strong it helps to prevent medical emergencies.
Katie Gregson, from St Annes, has Type One diabetes and has trained her Border Collie, Pip, to smell her breath and gauge blood sugar levels.
Christine Gregson‘Pip is a constant companion for Katie and has got her through the worst times, it’s an amazing relationship they have
Pip’s sense of smell is so strong she can detect when Katie’s glucose levels start to fall below or creep above critical levels.
If Pip senses danger, she will alert Katie by nudging, licking and even fetching a diabetes testing kit.
Her mum Christine, said: “Katie has researched all the techniques and ways to teach dogs about scent levels all by herself.
“She has spent hours upon hours training Pip which has led to more than 50 tricks being learnt.
“Pip is a constant companion for Katie and has got her through the worst times, it’s an amazing relationship they have.”
The disease can lead to sudden drops and rises in blood sugar levels producing a variety of symptoms that include seizures and unconsciousness.
It is an auto-immune disease which is not linked to lifestyle or diet.
At the age of 10, Katie also developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome which can cause severe pain down the left hand side of her body and especially her shoulder.
The skin of the affected body part can become so sensitive that just a slight touch or bump can provoke intense pain.
The pain became so bad at times that Katie would take pain relief medicine just to get to sleep but the 12-year-old has now managed to come off the medication altogether.
Christine added: “It’s testament to Katie’s strength of character she has managed to come completely off the pain relief medication, any slightest touch or brush can be painful.
“Pip will also walk on Katie’s left-hand side to specifically protect it.”
The training undertaken by Katie has been brought to the attention of the Medical Detection Dogs Organisation.
The charity has rated the dog highly in ability and temperament resulting in her, and Katie, being accepted for official training from their own home.
Christine added: “I am so proud of Katie’s achievements.
“Her determination and commitment never fails to amaze me.”
Pip has also been on the receiving end of a very tasty treat after Lisa Kelly, owner of Palace Pets in St Annes, told people about their relationship at Crufts.
John Burns of Burns Pet Nutrition was so impressed by Katie and Pip, he sent 15kg of dog food to St Annes.