Medical assistance dog provides unwavering support

We’ve shared a few stories about assistance dogs recently and today we are sharing the story of a young boy and the special bond he’s developed for the dog who could save his life.

Jaxon's book about his assistance dog kiwi

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Assistance dogs provide valuable support for people navigating life with a physical or mental disability, and for those with serious illnesses, these specially trained canines are a lifeline during a medical emergency.

Medical assistance dogs are trained to detect subtle changes in their owner’s condition so they can alert individuals or their caregivers to a possible emergency, often well before conventional medical alarms sound off.

From alerting diabetic patients of fluctuating blood sugar levels to signaling the onset of a seizure, assistance dogs make a huge difference in their lives.

Jaxon and Kiwi

For Queensland boy Jaxon and his mother Tanika, their Labrador Kiwi has proven to be a life-changing support.

Jaxon, currently in Year One, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of two.

His mother, Tanika Stimpson, faced the additional challenge of Jaxon’s adhesive allergy, which made it difficult for him to wear his glucose monitoring device and insulin pump.

Assistance Dog Kiwi from Smart Pups
Kiwi is trained to smell Jaxon’s body or breath; if he detects low blood sugar levels, Kiwi places his paw on Jaxon. If there’s no response, he starts barking to attract attention. (image: provided)

While it’s been a hard road at times, Tanika says the introduction of a special dog to their family has made the world of difference, both practically and emotionally.

Kiwi, a black Labrador, is an assistance dog who is trained to alert Tanika or Jaxon’s caregivers of an impending medical emergency.

Tanika says when Jaxon was three, she noticed he was not showing signs or feeling his insulin highs or lows.

While researching possible solutions, Tanika was led to Smart Pups Assistance Dogs, a not-for-profit in Queensland that trains dogs for children with medical or mobility needs.

“When Kiwi came home, he immediately started helping our family in so many ways,” says Tanika.

“Including by detecting Jaxon’s low sugars, comforting him during sensor changes, and by just being his friend.”

Assistance dog kiwi and Jaxon
Jaxon and Kiwi have developed a very close bond, says Tanika (image: supplied)

Kiwi’s sense of smell protects Jaxon

It’s Kiwi’s sense of smell that has been an invaluable support to both Tanika and Jaxon.

“If Kiwi smells Jaxon’s body or breath, he will let me know if his blood sugar is low,” Tanika says.

The first step for Kiwi after detecting low sugar levels is to put his paw on Jaxon, to alert him.

“If there is no response, Kiwi will start barking to get more attention.”

young boy sleeps with his medical assistance dog Animal Friendly Life
Kiwi sleeps in the bed with Jaxon and keeps a protective paw on him throughout the night (image: supplied)

While Kiwi is Jaxon’s dog, Tanika says the three of them have developed a very special relationship.

“We are a three-unit team,” she adds “we have this strong bond which is very special.”

“We had to fundraise to afford Kiwi, but he has been such a blessing, and he and Jaxon have developed a very strong bond.

“They have a brotherly relationship; they love playing games.

“Kiwi and Jaxon sleep together with Kiwi’s paw wrapped around his body.”

About Smart Pups Assistance Dogs

Smart Pups enhances the lives of children with autism and other disabilities by placing them with highly trained canine companions.

The dogs can significantly improve the physical health and safety of the children.

They also increase their independence, confidence, self-esteem, social interaction, life experience, and their overall happiness and wellbeing.

Head to their website to learn more about the organisation and the unique support they offer children and their families.