Dog of the Day
Ever heard of a dog saving someone’s life? Of course you have. You've probably read some amazing stories in this very magazine. But today’s hero dog is very different. She saves a young girl’s life every single day. Over and over and over again. Her name is Lola and this is her story.
Lola began life as one of thirteen orphaned pups. When Kendall, a sixteen year-old, helped her mom care for two of the puppies, she fell in love with the little clumsy Lab/Border Collie mix. The amazing thing was—Kendall was not allergic to her. This was nothing short of miraculous as Kendall has severe allergies to just about everything, including 95 percent of all foods. She must be fed through a feeding tube and be very, very careful of what she eats, touches, and even smells. Peanuts and tree and nut products, whether through contact or airborne molecules, will cause deathly anaphylaxis.
“We were not going to keep either of the puppies,” Kendall’s mom says, “I was just helping them get big enough for adoption.”
But Kendall wanted Lola to be trained to be her service dog. She believed in her and even paid for the training with her own money. She knew in her heart that Lola could be a detection dog for her. At five months, Lola was taken to the Falco Canine Academy. Andy, the owner, said, "This dog turned out to be incredible. As if there were some kind of divine intervention. She works perfectly for this situation. This happened to be the perfect storm. I'm glad we believed in her."
Lola became a world-famous detection dog. She won a contest sponsored by the National Geographic Channel, in which she went through hours of intense detection work. She was put up against the most powerful power washer in the world. Lola was able to detect the one plate out of twenty-five that had previously contained peanut butter. She was called the “Miracle Dog.”
So what exactly does Lola do for Kendall?
“She goes everywhere with me,” Kendall explains. “To the ice rink, the mall, on airplanes, everywhere. I tell her when to check something and she goes to work. The incredible thing about Lola is—she will do her job without even being told. In grocery stores she pushes me away from the aisle with the peanut butter cups. She is always on alert for me."
Kendall also has PTSD, common in kids who spend so much time in hospitals receiving medical treatments. She has flashbacks and gets anxious. Lola has the ability, without having been formally trained, to detect blood sugar levels and stress. When Kendall’s blood sugar is too low, Lola whines to get her or her mom’s attention. When Kendall gets nervous, Lola, "who is crazy when the vest is off," sits quietly by Kendall and makes her calmer.
“It's an extraordinary bond,” says her mom. “We almost lost Kendall eight times before Lola. But since Lola, she has never gone into anaphylactic shock.”
Kendall tells me, “Lola is sort of the underdog. She wasn’t expected to succeed. But we are blown away by her every day. She’s my hero. If I touch, eat—or even breathe something—the fear of losing my life to anaphylactic shock is real. I'm so lucky to have Lola. She turns it on when it's important."
Lola is a competent and devoted service dog, but she is still a pet, still part of the family. “We don’t treat her like an employee,” Kendall explains, “but she works and saves my life every day. I’m so blessed. I didn’t think Lola would pick me to be her little person, but she did. She’s my furry best friend."
It is not a surprise that Lola is a candidate in this year's American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards contest. Please vote for Lola, the very best (and goofiest) service dog in the world!