When their young daughter, Evelyn, began suffering from muscle aches and mouth sores, her parents knew they needed to find their daughter a diagnosis.
Luckily, the 13-year-old’s mom and dad are both pediatricians with the Beacon Medical Group in Indiana, and they worked hard to get to the bottom of it. As it turned out, Evelyn has Celiac disease, which can be difficult to diagnose since there are over 300 symptoms associated with it. This means that when Evelyn comes into contact with gluten, her immune system attacks parts of her body, making her sick.
But finding a diagnosis for the teen was only the beginning. Celiac disease is incurable, and the only way to manage it is to avoid the substance altogether. As it turns out, this is a very challenging thing to do in this day and age.
In addition to being in wheat, barley, and rye, Dr. Wendy Lapadat, Evelyn’s mom, explains that gluten can be found in household products, including hand soaps. It’s even found as a flavor enhancer in food, and can be listed as “natural flavoring.” The worst part is, these items don’t have to specify the presence of gluten on their labels. Even “gluten-free” food isn’t always safe for Evelyn.
“Unfortunately, Certified Gluten-Free food is set at 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten,” Dr. Lapadat said. “Evelyn cannot tolerate 20 ppm of gluten. Therefore, she can react to some ‘gluten-free’ food.”
While Celiac disease is not life-threatening, the smallest amount of gluten can make Evelyn sick with diarrhea, cramps, aches, and sores for several days at a time. The symptoms are so severe and easily triggered, the Lapadats have to be extremely careful when it comes to buying food, eating out, and going over to peoples’ houses. They even considered homeschooling their daughter, knowing that the only place that is truly “safe” is in their gluten-free household.
Then Zeus came along.
The miniature Australian Shepherd has the ability to sniff out minute amounts of gluten – and he’s given one young lady her independence back.
The Lapadats got the pup from Nosey Dog Detection Partners, who specialize in training dogs to sniff out gluten. He alerts Evelyn and her family if a product or meal contains the allergen.
According to a story by Myrtle Beach Online, Nosey Dog Detection Partners’ owner, and trainer Kathy Watters, Zeus can detect traces of gluten as small as .0025 parts per million.
The small pup with the big name has opened up so many possibilities for this family.
“Zeus has changed our lives by allowing Evelyn to spend the night at friends’ houses, going out to eat and not being scared at school,” Dr. Lapadat told us. “Now she can go to school. We are even considering allowing her to attend summer camp with Zeus!”
The relieved mom also shared one particular instance of the dog’s heroism, which he demonstrates each and every day.
“There was a time recently when Zeus alerted Evelyn to gluten located on lettuce and tomatoes in a restaurant,” she recalled. “Vegetables are naturally gluten free, however someone must have touched them with gloves that were handling other products. Had Zeus not been with us, she would have eaten the veggies and been very sick for several days.”
What an incredible story! We’re so glad that the Lapadats found a solution with Zeus, the pup with the “super power” to sniff out gluten!
Thanks to Dr. Wendy Lapadat for sharing this wonderful story and photos.