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Family pet wins detection dog status
A FAMILY pet turned trainee lifesaver has passed all her exams to become a fully fledged detection dog.
Two-year-old Cocker spaniel Molly has a unique bond with her owner Steven Courtney, nine, as she plays a major role in his health.
Steven has type one diabetes and must take insulin to stay alive.
Molly, who was originally bought as a family pet, can detect changes in Steven’s glucose levels by smell and will alert him by licking his hand, jumping up or fetching his glucose test kit.
As previously reported in the Oxford Mail, Molly has been training to be a detection dog for nine months so she can sense when Steven needs treatment.
And she has now completed her final test – with the added pressure of being filmed for a television documentary.
Steven’s mother Serena said the family was delighted with Molly and she had been rewarded with treats and a new toy for passing her test.
She said: “We are all very proud of Molly passing her test, it felt a bit like passing a driving test, taking off her training jacket and putting on her official alert dog one.”
Steven said: “I wasn’t nervous, I didn't know it was the real test because it was being filmed. I think Molly is the best dog ever.”
Former teacher Mrs Courtney, who also lives with husband Paul and their six-year-old son Charlie near Bicester, said: “They filmed Steven working with her, doing recall in a paddock at the centre, then working in town, going into a coffee shop etc, all part of the assessment.
“The people from the charity were watching and making notes to see if Molly did as she was asked and was calm and relaxed when out in public.
“She was very relaxed and walked very calmly with Steven, so they were impressed.
“They then filmed her being presented with her new jacket, Steven removing the training coat and putting on her new one.”
Molly wears a special jacket and collar when she’s on duty.
Steven was diagnosed with type one diabetes when he was three after one weekend he suddenly started to drink a lot. Now he must test blood glucose levels with a finger tip prick before he eats and before and after any activity.
Molly gives the family an early warning if Steven needs treatment.
Molly is able to alert for both hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia where levels of glucose in the blood become too low or too high respectively.
Steven’s parents then carry out a test to find out which one and he is treated appropriately.