It may be your typical back-to-school time, but this year, third-graders at Vandever Elementary in Broken Arrow, OK have a new classmate ready to take on the school year.
Jadyn Means, the teacher of this class, has coped with severe food allergies since she was first diagnosed at age 13. Among other triggers, Ms Means is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and says she has mild allergic reactions eight to ten times per week. She is constantly in danger of developing anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance.
Enter Minnie, Means’ service dog and sidekick, a Labrador who can sense allergic reactions and warn her before she goes into anaphylactic shock.
Within the last month she has been able to pick up what’s happening with my body and by smelling and licking my hands. So she has started to figure that out, roughly about three to five minutes before a reaction begins.
Minnie has been with Means since November. She began training for her job in January — first obedience training, then service animal training — and finished in mid-March.
Means says Minnie is not just there to support her physically but mentally as well:
The stress of knowing it can happen randomly has helped decrease because I know there is always someone there watching and protecting me. So I can focus on the students and my lessons.
See this report from 2 News Oklahoma about Jadyn and Minnie: