The Dog Blog

The world’s first airborne nut allergy detection dog

In 2004 Tara Bedford ate a chocolate brownie & ended up in A&E.

Her nut allergy had come out of the blue, and is so severe that just the smell of nuts can trigger a reaction.

“Any rustle on a train or a bus and it’s, what are they opening? Should I move?” Cafes are out, as is air travel (all those free peanuts), and she last went to the cinema five years ago. She had to give up work in 2012, and between 2010 and 2013, was rushed to A&E 40 times.

Then Bedford heard about Medical Detection Dogs, a charity that trains dogs to help people with life-threatening conditions. Airborne nut detection was new territory for them, but Willow, a labrador, was selected because she had failed her test as a guide dog for the blind for “overuse of the nose”.

Willow, now four, was trained to alert Bedford with a forceful push at the first smell of nuts. Since Willow moved in last July, Bedford has been in hospital only twice. She teaches swimming in a private pool (no vending machines), has started a degree and can even think about getting on the bus alone.“Willow has changed my life completely.”


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