LITTLE Alena Hughes’ pet really is a best friend to her.
Pet labrador Maisie is specially trained to judge whether her diabetic owner from Kirk Sandall needs insulin - and then to raise the alarm.
The six-year-old is the youngest person to have one of the dogs, trained by the charity Medical Detection Dogs.
Both Maisie and Alena were invited to the charity’s headquarters in Milton Keynes this week to meet the Duchess of Cornwall when the toured its headquarters. She also met the Downton Abbey actress Lesley Nicholls.
Alena’s mum, Victoria Hughes, said: “The charity and Maisie have helped Alena no end.
“At her age she does not know when her blood sugar has got too low, pretty much until she is going to collapse. The worst part is during the night.
“It had got to the point where I would go and take a blood sample in the middle of the night to check.
“But Maisie picks up a scent from Alena from her skin that lets her monitor the blood sugar levels. Apparently when it is high, it smells of pear drops as far as the dog is concerned.
“If the level is dropping, Maisie tells me until I do something.”
She said Alena was delighted to meet the Duchess and had spent most of the previous week thinking about what she should wear.
“It was wonderful,” she said. “She really put Alena at ease. She asked Alena all about Maisie and where she slept.
“They also discussed the flowers she presented the Duchess with.”
The MDD trains dogs like Maisie at a cost of £5,000 each to be able to assist with life threatening conditions.
Maisie has been specially trained to be able to sniff out when Alena’s blood sugar is low and alerts someone immediately.
Victoria said having Maisie around looking out for Alena was amazing and really put her mind at ease.
Log on to http://medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk for more information on MDD.