Dog Detective Sniffs Out Gluten
Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.View all articles by Jefferson Adams
Dogs can be trained to sniff out gluten. Unidentified Beauceron. Photo: CC-miluz
To become so accomplished at gluten-detection, Elias spent weeks in Slovenia undergoing intense gluten-detection training, and now he can detect and warn her away from anything containing gluten, hot or cold, in all its many forms. Teaching a dog to be alert to the scent of gluten is more challenging than other scent-detection training, precisely because gluten comes in so many forms. When it's time for Elias to do the sniff test for Scott, she places a cover with holes over the item, and the dog takes a sniff. If Elias smells gluten, he tries to pull the item away from her; if it's safe, he just looks away. To help Elias keep his edge, Scott tests him daily with known gluten-containing foods, and adds in products she hopes are gluten-free.
Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease about two years ago after spending much time "in and out of hospitals" She's now acutely vigilant about checking labels and trying to avoid cross-contamination. "You can't drop your guard for even a minute," says Scott, who likens an attack to "a really extremely bad case of stomach flu" from which her body doesn't recover fully for nearly three weeks. That's where Elias works like a charm.
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