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Meet Aster the medical detection dog who's helped to turn one woman's life around

Aster alerts Elenor when her blood sugar levels have changed. Credit: ITV Wales

She may look like any other dog, but with the touch of a paw or a bark, Aster has helped change Elenor Clark's life.

Elenor has been living with diabetes for nearly 30 years, but five years ago her condition worsened leaving her having sudden low or high blood glucose levels without warning and ending up in hospital every few weeks.

It was very unpleasant. I was hospitalised a couple of times. When my mother was at home there were a number of times when she had to call an ambulance particularly in the mornings...the scariest bit was after my mother had a stroke and I was on my own and I constant fear of having hypos in the night and becoming unconscious.

– Elenor Clark

Watch Alexandra Lodge's report:

Elenor applied for a medical detection dog and says that when she met labrador/retriever cross Aster they had an immediate connection. The dogs are trained to smell the chemical body changes that occur as the insulin levels increase or drop. Usually the training takes place over a number of months, but Elenor said Aster alerted her during her first walk and went on to alert her a further eight times within a week of them meeting.

If Aster senses a change in Elenor, she will paw her knee, rub her leg or arm, jump up, or steal her book - anything to get Elenor's attention. Elenor then tests her blood and if her levels are too low, she eats and if they're too high, she takes insulin.

Elenor says Aster has changed her life completely, helping her to get out and even take a holiday for the first time in years.

Apart from the fact that she's helping me to control my diabetes, which means that she's helping me to take control of my own health, having Aster means i go out and walk regularly which is very good for my diabetes. She's a fantastic companion, it's a lovely social thing, I've made so many friends from having Aster.

– Elenor Clark

You can find out more about medical detection dogs here.

Aster is a medical detection dog, trained to smell the chemical changes in a human's body when their blood sugar level changes. Credit: ITV Wales

Watch Alexandra Lodge's full report here: