Because Shirley is a labrador whose duty it is to make sure that the life of a seven-year-old girl is not in danger.
Rebecca Farrar has an aggressive form of type one diabetes which means she could have a hypoglycemic attack and slip into a coma at any time. Rebecca cannot tell when an attack is imminent - but her friend Shirley can.
Shirley can actually smell when the little girl’s blood sugar levels are becoming too high or too low. If she detects a change she will lick Rebecca until she or her teacher notices. If she gets no response she will either sit on Rebecca or even go and fetch the medical kit.
Shirley has been attending Rebecca's school in Northamptonshire for a year after being trained to spot the problem by the charity Medical Detection Dogs.
The one pupil allowed to sniff in class: How Shirley the labrador uses her nose to stop Rebecca, 7, falling into a coma
By Lorraine Fisher
5th February 2011
She can’t read and her maths is pretty poor, but she is undoubtedly the star pupil in her class.
Shirley the labrador spends the school day making sure seven-year-old Rebecca Farrar’s life is not in danger.
Rebecca has an aggressive form of type one diabetes which means she could have a hypoglycemic attack and slip into a coma at any time. She cannot tell when this is about to happen but Shirley’s extraordinary nose means that she can smell when the little girl’s blood sugar levels are becoming too high or too low.
Paying attention: Shirley spends all day in class in case Rebecca has a hypeoglycemic attack
When the dog detects a change she will lick Rebecca until she or her teacher notices.
If she gets no response, Shirley will sit on the girl or even go and fetch the medical testing kit in the classroom at Harpole Primary School in Northamptonshire. Once the dog has done her job, classroom assistant Theresa Hodgkiss tests Rebecca’s blood sugar level and either gives her some sugar if it is too low or an insulin injection if too high.
Girl's best friend: The dog has been with Rebecca for a year
Shirley has been attending school for a year after being trained to spot the problem by the charity Medical Detection Dogs.
‘It’s an absolute life-saver for Rebecca to have the dog at school,’ said her mother Claire. Rebecca, who has a twin brother, Joseph, was diagnosed two years ago with type one diabetes, where the body produces no insulin.
Since then she has needed hospital treatment eight times and suffers up to five attacks a day.
‘It happens very quickly,’ said Mrs Farrar. ‘One moment she’s fine, the next she’s collapsed.’