Imagine being so sensitive to gluten that merely touching something made with wheat, barley or rye can trigger a reaction that can shorten your life.
That’s the case with Dawn Scheu, who suffers from refractory celiac disease, a rare condition that causes gluten to damage your intestines, no matter how trace the amount. People with the condition have severely damaged intestines that cannot heal. To protect against encountering gluten, she went three years without eating in a restaurant.
But a new tool is helping Scheu and others detect gluten in prepared food and packaged products – a gluten-sniffing dog.
Scheu's dog, Willow, is a German Shorthaired Pointer who began training at just 17 weeks old. Training a dog to ferret out gluten by smell takes at least four months because gluten comes in many forms, making it more difficult to detect. Gluten can be found in everything from pastas, breads and baked goods to frozen dinners, cream sauces, casseroles, ham, salad dressings and soy sauce.
Willow, goes with her to the grocery store now and paws at packages that contain even tiny amounts of gluten, saving her from a dangerous reaction. Scheu is now willing to try what most of us take for granted. She went out to dinner for her anniversary!
Service dogs help folks with physical disabilities and emotional challenges, what a breakthrough that now they can assist those of us with crippling food allergies and diseases.
Source: Livingston County Daily Press and Argus