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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Hawkeye the Service Dog Sniffs Out Gluten for Sensitive Six-Year-Old

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Hawkeye the service dog helps sniff out gluten for 6-year-old diagnosed with celiac disease.


    Caption: Image: CC--USDA

    Celiac.com 09/17/2018 - Her name is Hawkeye, she’s a black lab, and her mission is to detect gluten for a young man named Toby, who gets terribly sick if he eats food that contains gluten. Hawkeye is up to 98% accurate at detecting gluten with just a few sniffs. 

    Hawkeye was also expensive, costing a princely $16,000, not including food, and vet bills. That may sound expensive, but, says Toby’s mom, Amy "when you think about it trainers are often training only one to two dogs at a time and our trainer, she only trained one dog at a time and it took a year.”

    In Toby’s case, the community rallied to raise the money to buy Hawkeye, who is a registered service dog, and so can accompany Toby nearly everywhere. Everyone loves Hawkeye and her role in Toby’s life. Amy calls Hawkeye a “life-giver, and says that  Amy continued “she's breathed life and confidence into Toby that we haven't seen in a really long time."

    She adds that the family has “really seen just growth and development in him because he's not getting sick as often and he's now able to learn more. So he can now say his alphabet, learn his numbers and colors, things that just a year ago he wasn't doing."

    Gluten-sniffing dogs are rare, but their numbers are growing. The Mercola.com website says that Willow, a gluten-sniffing German shorthaired pointer in Michigan, can detect gluten with 95 percent to 98 percent accuracy. The website Nimasensor.com notes that “[g]luten-sniffing dogs may detect gluten in amounts as small as .0025 parts per million with 95 percent to 98 percent accuracy.”

    Love the idea of a gluten sniffing dog, but maybe daunted by the price, logistics or commitment? There are portable gluten sensors currently on the market, with greater accuracy than Hawkeye, for a few hundred dollars.

    Disclosure: Nima Labs is a paid advertiser for Celiac.com


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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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