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Medical assistance dog Scooby saves life of diabetic Sophie-Alice Pearman, 11, in Rolvenden Road, Tenterden

When 11 year-old Sophie-Alice Pearman’s blood sugar levels shot through the roof, it was her canine companion who saved her life.

Golden labrador Scooby is just seven months old but started barking furiously by the sleeping youngster’s bedside.

Devoted Scooby is in training to be a medical alert assistance dog and lives with the Pearman family in Rolvenden Road, Tenterden.

Sophie-Alice’s mum Jane, 39, explained: “Sophie-Alice has type one diabetes and Scooby is able to detect differences in body odour that indicate whether her blood sugar is too high or low.

“He saved Sophie-Alice’s life that night as we had to rush her to paediatric intensive care at the William Harvey Hospital. Doctors told us that if she had been left any longer in that state she would have died.”

Sophie-Alice Pearman, 11, checks her sugar levels with Scooby her medical assistance dog.
Sophie-Alice Pearman, 11, checks her sugar levels with Scooby her medical assistance dog.

Now the Pearmans have launched a fundraising campaign to get Scooby fully accredited as a medical assistance dog, so that he can accompany Sophie-Alice to school at the High Weald Sports Academy, Cranbrook, and in her leisure time.

Sophie-Alice’s diabetes is just one of number of serious health conditions the youngster faces. Born prematurely at 34 weeks, she suffered a bleed on her brain and has hydrocephalus and spina bifida.

Her condition means that she has excess fluid around her brain and has had to have a shunt fitted in her head to drain it away.

Jane said: “Sophie-Alice spent the first six months of her life in King’s College Hospital in London and has had seven major brain operations.

“She was diagnosed with type one diabetes three years ago and the problem is that if her blood sugars go out of control and she collapses, there’s a risk that she will bang her head and damage the shunt.”

Sophie-Alice passed all her development milestones despite the gloomy predictions of doctors.

Jane said: “We were told that she wouldn’t walk, talk, or go to a mainstream school, but Sophie-Alice is a little fighter and has proved them all wrong.”

Thanks Scooby. Sophie-Alice Pearman, 11, with her medical assistance dog.
Thanks Scooby. Sophie-Alice Pearman, 11, with her medical assistance dog.

The former Tenterden Junior School pupil is as bright as her fellow classmates and enjoys athletics and dancing.

But Jane says that her awareness of her blood sugar levels is low and that’s where Scooby comes in because he can detect the variations before Sophie-Alice is aware of them herself.

It costs £10,000 to fully train a medical alert assistance dog and until Scooby is fully qualified, he is not allowed to accompany Alice at school or in public buildings, so Jane is keen for Scooby to be accredited.

She said: “Sophie-Alice got Scooby when he was eight weeks old and the two of them are now inseparable.”

The Pearman family, Jane, husband Rob, Sophie-Alice and her brother Matthew, nine, are getting support from the Tenterden community.

There is a fundraising challenge at Papa Joe’s cafe in St Michael’s involving the infamous 10terden Terminator breakfast on Saturday, November 29.

Staff at Master Cutters hairdressers in High Street will be dressing up as Scooby characters for the town’s late night shopping event on Friday, December 5.

To find out more, or to offer sponsorship visit www.facebook.com/scoobysniffsadventures

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