Published: 12:00, 06 March 2015
To the outside world Pal looks like any other dog but through the eyes of owner Claire Pearson the dog is her lifeline.
That’s because he has been trained to save the type 1 diabetic’s life over and over again.
The ‘dogtor’ alerts her when it detects small changes in her scent indicating her blood sugar levels are rising too high, or falling too low, both of which could lead to her falling into a coma and possibly dying.
“I can tell by the way he looks at me that he’s picked up something,” she said.
“I don’t get any warning but he’ll lick my hand, paw my leg or hassle me until I’ve checked my blood levels.
“He can fetch my glucose medication if it’s low or my insulin if it’s high, he knows which one to get.
“If I’m not taking any notice he will get someone else if they’re in the house or he will bark.
“My neighbours know then that there’s something wrong. He can even fetch the phone.”
For more than 10 years her children Jake, 19 and Jed, 16, were coming home from school almost everyday to find their mum collapsed in a diabetic coma on the floor.
It led to Claire sinking into depression, unable to leave the house for fear of what might happen.
Now, with Pal by her side 24/7, she is able to go out independently on a daily basis.
It’s no wonder then that the 46-year-old, who lives in Bicknor with husband Steve, 50, claims the black labrador has given the family a new lease of life after he was donated to her by the charity Medical Detection Dog three years ago.
She said: “He saves my life up to a dozen times a day. I can’t imagine life without him now.
“My two boys were struggling and my husband’s job was jeopardised because he couldn’t take a job too far away from home because he would often get a call saying I was in hospital.
“I was on the internet seeing if there were any support groups when an advert popped up for Medical Detection Dog. I thought it could be the answer to all our prayers so I filled out the application form.
“Eighteen months down the line I got a call saying they had a dog so we went to Milton Keynes, where the charity is based, and Pal came bounding into the room with a tennis ball and dropped it at my feet as if to say ‘if you’re taking me home you need to be able to play ball’.
“He’s given me my life back and given my teenage sons their lives back, as they know that I will be okay while Pal is with me.”
Mrs Pearson, who has end-stage renal failure and is waiting for a double organ transplant, even takes the canine to her dialysis appointments which she has three times a week at Maidstone hospital.
She added: “He doesn’t stop working.”
Pal is one of four dogs to make it through to the final of a competition which celebrates how loyal and loving man’s best friend truly is.
He was put forward for the Eukanuba Friends for Life awards by Claire Pearson’s sons Jed and Jake who described their lives as a ‘dark place’ until the medical detection canine arrived.
They said: “Pal has turned mum from a shy, quiet, anxious lady into the bubbly mum we love to bits.”
The winner will be chosen by public vote and announced this Sunday at Crufts 2015, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham.
Mrs Pearson said: “I am so proud that he has made it to the final.
“I hope that everyone gets behind us and votes for him, as he is such a remarkable dog.”
First place will receive £1,500. The other finalists will receive £750 from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their chosen charities.
To vote for Pal go to the website channel4.com/cruftsvote
Videos of the finalists can be found at www.youtube.com/crufts
For more details on the charity visit the website medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk