Willow the gluten sniffing dog(Photo: WZZM)


(WZZM) -- It's hard to imagine not being able to go to the grocery store because you're afraid of a life threatening allergic reaction, but unfortunately it's a reality for some Americans.

Now finding a way to live a normal life may be as easy as adopting a dog.

"She gave me my life back, "Dawn Scheu has Celiac disease, the most severe form of gluten allergy. "The last time I got contaminated it was ten weeks." 10 weeks in and out of the hospital that nearly cost her her life.

But now she has Willow a gluten sniffing dog.

In Dawn's desperation for a normal life she went in search of a trainer willing to train a dog to sniff out gluten. "I called 18 companies and trainers before I called Kathy and Kathy said she would try it."

At first even Kathy Watters had her doubts. "My thoughts were if there's gluten everywhere how am I going to train it. It's in your bird food it's in your bug spray it's in the Ziploc baggy. The glue."

But despite the odds Willow proved she had a nose for it. "It was like a month though and we knew we had It," says Watters.

And only another six months before Dawn could start enjoying life. "I can travel I can go out to eat I can do things that I couldn't do before."

And being the smart dog that she is, Willow even sniffed out an idea for a new business. "This can help so many people and the service dog world as well."

And that's how Dawn and Kathy started Nosey Dog Detection Partners. "We'll try anything. What's the worst that could happen? No it didn't work or the best thing, yes it did work," says Watters.

Of course they never expected their first client to ask for a red dye 40 sniffing dog. But once again they found success.

Eight year old Elizabeth Martin's allergy to red dye 40 is so severe she can't be around markers, crayons or anything red another child has used or eaten without her Epipen. "When she was four she started having a lot of the allergic reactions her lips swelling her tongue swelling." Elizabeth's mom Cynthia is hoping Skittles the red dye 40 sniffing dog will change that for Elizabeth.

The downside is service dogs aren't cheap; they can run from $15,000 to $50,000.

But Dawn and Kathy have come up with a way to make them more affordable by helping families train their own dog and it's working for Cynthia. "We come to class one to two times a week we work on obedience we work on the on scent training."

It takes about six months and a lot of patience but Cynthia says it's worth it.

Dawn and Kathy also want to start training dogs for Veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome. They hope to get enough donations so that no vet has to pay for their dog.

Here's a link if you're interested in learning more about Nosey-Dog Detection Partners.


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