We’ve all walked passed a seeing eye dog on duty. The ability of the dogs (and trainers) to learn and react to so much in a safe way is utterly amazing. Some of us may have seen an emotional support animal in service. However, another task dogs can provide is as an early warning system. This is exactly what little KK needs from her dog JJ.
Kaelyn Krawczyk suffers from a rare disease called mastocytosis. Simply put, this is when the body produces too many mast cells.
It is useful to have mast cells as they help the body fight off infections. However, having too many mast cells causes episodes similar to allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, a chemical release within the body that results in low blood pressure and narrowed airways. Where people with food or drug allergies can simply avoid their allergen, those with mastocytosis have triggers that vary from heat or cold, stress or fatigue.
KK’s condition could escalate very quickly. She could be going about her day without a single indicator of mastocytosis, and within a few minutes an episode could surprise her. In less severe cases, KK must stop whatever activity she is engaged in and rest. Sometimes she may need water to rehydrate. In more severe cases, KK will need medication or medical attention. Enter JJ.
JJ, named for her trainers, is a terrier mutt who was identified at just one year old as having potential to be a service dog. Her trainers Jerry and Jenna, taught her to react to the scent of extra mast cells in a specific person’s breath. JJ was given a sample from three different people with mastocytosis. She correctly identified an impending episode in all three cases. KK was just lucky to end up with her. Though, truth be told, JJ was lucky to end up with KK too.
KK’s parents were afraid that she would never be able to attend school because of the volatile nature of her disease. However, the extra few minutes of notice that JJ provides give KK and her caregivers the opportunity to react to the episode, sometimes before it even starts.
You may have heard of this unique pairing before. KK and JJ made headlines a few years ago when surgeons at Duke University Hospital brought JJ into the operating room during KK’s surgery because JJ’s predictive abilities outperformed the latest medical technology.
KK attends school now with JJ constantly by her side. KK’s mother Michelle is still present within the school when KK is attending. However, Michelle isn’t in the classroom any more.
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