NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Puppy training to save life of allergy boy Mason Hale

Mason Hale and puppy Storm Image copyright Michael Traill

A schoolboy who has suffered thousands of allergic reactions has been handed a lifeline - a cute new puppy.

Golden retriever Storm will be trained to raise the alarm when six-year-old Mason Hale has an adverse reaction.

In the last 18 months, doctors have saved the youngster three times after allergies caused his throat to swell so much it stopped him breathing.

Once fully trained the dog will accompany the boy 24-hours a day to spot any change in his condition.

Mason, from Buckie, Moray, has so many allergies that he cannot go to soft play areas or the cinema.

It means he often has to miss out on friends' birthday parties because even playing with a balloon and eating cake could kill him.

'Unbreakable' bond

It will be Storm's job to notice the signs that Mason is having an allergic reaction and, using a special signal, alert Mason and those around him to the situation.

Once fully trained, Storm will even go to school with the youngster.

His mother, Kelly Hale, 30, said: "I remember the doctor saying every anaphylactic shock he has is a step closer to losing him for good.

"Mason has so many allergies. Even lighting a candle can cause a reaction, depending on what the candle is made of.

"Having Storm will give us more peace of mind and let him lead as normal a life as possible. He'll be able to do things he couldn't do before, like going on school trips. Now he'll have the comfort of Storm being there with him, without fear.

"We only got him in July but the difference he has made to Mason's life already is amazing. He is so much more confident, and wherever one goes, the other follows. They're unbreakable."

Fully trained

Mason is also allergic to dogs, even those bred for their non-casting fur, so before the family could consider getting Storm, it took 18 months to build up his immunity to the breed.

Now Storm sleeps with Mason every night and follows him everywhere he goes.

The training is still in its early stages but Mrs Hale believes he is already showing signs of being a great medical companion.

She said: "Mason also suffers from stomach troubles and a few nights ago he was sick and Storm just walked back and forth until someone took notice. If you don't, he starts barking. He's just amazing.

"I'd put my trust in Storm more than I would some adults, that's how much he's affected Mason's life already."

When Storm's training is complete, expected to be next spring, the dog will wear a special red coat to identify him as a medical assistance dog.