My dog saves my life every day


Stacey Maguire’s life is always in danger. A severe Type 1 Diabetic, her body doesn’t produce the insulin it needs to control her blood sugar, leaving her vulnerable to catastrophic changes in sugar levels. But as long as her dog is around she has nothing to fear. Gretchen is a Swiss Shepherd who saves her owner’s life on a daily basis by warning her whenever her blood sugar level is dangerous. Incredibly, the canine does this by smell.

Maguire’s chronic condition is so severe that she’s on the best monitoring technology in South Africa. But before Gretchen, Maguire still experienced hypoglycaemic episodes and seizures at least once a week when changes in her blood sugar weren’t detected in time. So when Gretchen arrived from America her sole objective was sniffing out the problem faster. And that she does – a full hour ahead of any available technology.

Her method? An urgent paw to the knee, followed by a bark. The dog takes no nonsense, delivering the testing kit to Maguire’s hand if her response is sluggish. If anything goes wrong the service animal sounds an alarm or alerts the nearest person to the danger. Her owner couldn’t ask for better care. As the first South African to benefit from a Diabetic Assist Dog, Maguire’s dream is to start a facility to train more dogs to help diabetics like her. That’s something South Africa can get behind.