WE all know that dogs are man’s best friend, but for two Pembrokeshire residents their dogs are life savers. There are only four trained medical alert assistance dogs in the whole of Wales, two of which live and work in Pembrokeshire.

Elenor Clark, from Fishguard has had severe type 1 diabetes for nearly thirty years, she says her labrador-golden retriever cross, Aster, has turned her life around.

Elenor has lost awareness of when her blood sugar needs regulating and before she had Aster she was blue-lighted into hospital on several occasions after losing consciousness in her sleep. Luckily her mother had been there to call an ambulance but Elenor was worried about it happening when she was on her own.

“I was running my blood sugar levels high at night to avoid having a hyper in my sleep. In the long term this would have been very bad for my health,” she said.

“Then one night I happened to be watching Crufts and there was a bit about these dogs, I thought ‘this is what I need’”.

Elenor applied to the Medical Detection Dogs charity in 2011. The dogs are trained to detect minute changes in their owner’s blood sugar levels using their sense of smell.

On her birthday in July last year she had a phone call from the charity to say they had two dogs for her to chose from.

She bonded with Aster straight away.

“She was meant to be a hypo detection dog. It seems to have just come to her naturally to do the alerting,” she said.

“She is alerting me three or four times a day, sometimes more. She comes to me starts and pawing me, if I don’t respond quickly enough she’ll sit on me and won’t stop till I do a blood test. If I’m in bed she’ll paw the side of the bed, if she gets no response she’ll sit on me and woof in my face.

“I really can’t imagine life without her. I don’t know how I coped without her. She is absolutely brilliant and very special.”

See next week’s Western Telegraph for more on Pembrokeshire’s second medical alert assistance dog.