In the United States, about one in 13 children have food allergies that could potentially threaten their lives. Besides traditional prevention strategies such as reading food labels, specially trained service dogs can help families avoid triggers.
Hayden Kreikemeier, now 13 years old, underwent anaphylactic shock three years ago after he ate a candy bar. The boy didn’t know that it contained peanuts, one of his allergens.
Jay and Kelly, his parents, thought that Hayden would get through it after they gave him an epinephrine injector and rushed him to the emergency room.
However, the boy ended up in a coma that lasted five days. The experience was frightening for his parents, to say the least — they thought that was the last they’d seen of their son.
Thankfully, Hayden eventually woke up, to everyone’s relief. Still, the young man’s doctors warned the family that he will not survive another allergic reaction.
So they gave Jay and Kelly two options. One was to confine Hayden at home to keep him from coming into contact with his triggers. The other was to raise awareness about the young man’s condition among their family, friends, and neighbors.
Naturally, they didn’t want to restrict Hayden’s life, so Jay and Kelly got a service dog named Trixie to assist their son. The Labrador retriever underwent highly specialized training so she could provide precisely what Hayden needs.
Allergen detection dogs like Trixie can put a deep dent in one’s finances. However, as Kelly says, the peace of mind that the Labrador has given their family is priceless.
Physician Dr. Jennifer Lee Ashton cautions interested families that these service dogs are in no way a replacement for other prevention methods, though. It’s still crucial for people like Hayden with allergies to be extremely careful about the food with which they come into contact.
Also, Dr. Ashton reminds families that canines like Trixie are not pets. Hence, both the service dog and their handler must be up-to-date with their training.
It’s undeniable how helpful Trixie has been to Hayden, however. The boy is allergic to 12 kinds of nuts, but the Lab’s highly sensitive nose can detect the presence of any of these nuts even when they’re stored in a container and hidden away.
Because of this ability, Hayden’s allergy is now far less likely to be triggered. Watch Trixie demonstrate her extraordinary sense of smell in the video below:
Source: Good Morning America on YouTube