Service dogs lend helping paw by sniffing out asthma attacks before they hit

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- We all know dogs are man’s best friend, but now service dogs are lending a helping paw in another way--helping Hoosiers struggling with asthma.

“It’s not magic. It’s very simple. It’s dog training,” said Julie Case, the owner of Ultimate Canine.

Case says a four-legged friend could be the difference between life and death, when an asthma attack hits without any warning.

“We can use the behavior the child will exhibit like wheezing or gasping for air,” she explained. “Quite often it’s a successful outcome because we can train these dogs to react in a specific way."

Case says asthmatic service dogs are still for the most part unknown, but they're gaining in popularity, especially among kids.

Training begins the moment a dog is born, and they’re taught to notice changes in their owner’s breathing.

“We can also train the dog to lay down near the child and calm him down. In the moment of that asthma attack, not only did he alert the parent, but he’s holding the child down, calming him down.”

A typical training takes about a year and can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000. But Case says it’s a lifeline that many people can’t put a price tag on.

“These dogs literally save lives. There’s no possible way these people could continue having a normal life without the dog.”

Case says people must be tested for allergies beforehand to make sure they won’t have any sort of reaction.

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