Service dog with a hidden talent helps child with coeliac disease

A service dog with a hidden talent is giving a young boy with coeliac disease newfound confidence.

coeliac service dog
Photo credit: KPTV Image

A 6-year old from Oregon in US with coeliac disease is being given a helping hand (or paw in this case!) in managing his condition from a four-legged friend.

After spending years trying to get a diagnosis of coeliac disease for her son Toby, Amy Hardesty, then turned her attention to how her son would cope with his strict dietary requirements at school.

When exposed to gluten, Toby suffers from headaches and the whole right side of his body shuts down “like he’s had a stroke” when he’s exposed to gluten, giving his mother cause for concern.

Ms Hardesty believed it wasn’t fair for the school to have to manage Toby’s disease, she made the decision to enlist the help of a service dog Hawkeye to sniff out gluten before Toby can touch it.


“We just realized we need some extra support,” Amy said. “It’s not fair to send him to school and expect everyone else to know how to take care of him and it’s also not fair to put that responsibility on a six-year-old, because he’s six so we started looking for service dogs.”

The family’s local community helped her raise $16,000 to pay for the service dog, a price which Toby’s mother believes is well justified as her son’s “growth and development” has gone from strength to strength because he’s no longer getting sick from hidden gluten.

According to Ms Hardesty, “She’s breathed life and confidence into Toby that we haven’t seen in a really long time.”

Amy said she hopes by middle school, Toby can attend without Hawkeye. She said the plan is then for him to use her only as needed.