A canine’s sense of smell is great for a lot of things, whether it’s detecting changes in blood sugar or even sniffing out illegal drugs. But for teenager Martina Baker who happens to be deathly allergic to almost everything, her service dog Caiomhe is a lifesaver.
It all started when the 15-year-old teenager contracted a very rare condition. Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) makes her susceptible to allergic attacks from even the most common, everyday substances like water and heat. These reactions can quickly become deadly for the young lady.
For example, if Baker smells cooking oil, it can immediately send her into anaphylactic shock. When these allergy attacks happen and she does not receive proper treatment immediately, there’s a risk that she could die. She often has to wear a protective mask whenever she goes out in public.
Considering the sensitive nature of her condition, a service dog seemed like the most appropriate option to help her avoid allergy attacks. Baker’s family raised money to get her a service dog trained to smell the release of histamine from her body and warn her of allergens. Using the donations given to the family, they bought her a dog named Caiomhe to be her allergy guide.
Caiomhe’s keen sense of smell allows her to sniff out if Baker is about to have an attack or a reaction to a specific stimulus or trigger. Her sense of smell is so effective that she can give warnings even before her owner displays any symptoms or realizes that she sniffed something she is allergic to. Caiomhe is able to stop Baker from having a life-threatening reaction by standing in front of her path so she won’t have access or encounter with the stimulus.
The Hardships Of MCAS
Martina’s condition is anything but easy. It began when she broke out with hives at age 13. She experienced close calls with her throat closing up. She also frequently needed an EpiPen shot when she wasn’t in the hospital three times a week. Her doctor diagnosed her with MCAS.
“I came from a normal girl with no health issues to one day, my whole life was altered,” said Martina in an interview. “I am allergic to any smell that is not oxygen we breathe every day.”
This is one of the reasons why Martina finds Caiomhe more than comforting. With her, the chances of an attack go down, and she’s able to enjoy her life without literally living on the edge each day. Thanks to Caiomhe and mast cell stabilizing drugs, Baker went from having anaphylactic attacks three times a week to once every four to six months.
Allergy-Sniffing Dogs To The Rescue
Dogs who detect traces of allergens in things like food or airborne particles can be true lifesavers. A lot of Americans struggle with food allergies, and a service dog may be the best option for some of those who suffer the worst anaphylactic attacks. Perhaps one of the top severe allergies is peanuts, which affects one in every 13 children in the U.S. alone.
Due to the wide range of reactions from mild to life-threatening, it may be good to have a service dog who can sniff traces of peanuts before you or your child ingests them. Many products contain peanuts or come into contact with peanuts, so allergy sufferers need to take extra precautions. Thanks to a service dog’s superior sense of smell that can sniff out even minute traces of peanuts, owners can lower the risk of a deadly anaphylactic episode.
What are your thoughts on allergy-sniffing dogs? Would you love to have a sniffer dog to ensure you and your family stay safe? Let us know in the comments below!