Friend indeed: Talia Greek and her puppy Roxy, soon to be trained as a seizure-alert dog. Photo: Fiona-Lee Quimby Caroline Marcus September 2, 2007 TALIA Greek's golden retriever puppy is more than just her best friend - she could potentially save her young owner from a life-threatening seizure. The eight-year-old was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago and has already been admitted to hospital several times with dangerously low blood-sugar levels. This week, Talia's new puppy Roxy will begin training as a seizure-alert dog able to recognise when sugar levels are not right, preventing hypoglycaemic fits. The dogs can predict seizures by sniffing a person's sweat. The year 2 student, who was appointed an ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) last week, is one of just a handful of diabetics in NSW who own alert dogs. Her mother, Michel, said if Roxy had been with the family during a holiday on Hamilton Island last December, she could have prevented a terrifying seizure. "Talia started convulsing and she was looking right through me," Mrs Greek said from the family's St Ives home. "Never mind taking years off her life, it took years off mine, too." The training director for Paws for Diabetics, a non-profit organisation that places diabetic-alert dogs in homes, said the concept was still new in Australia, with just seven dogs accredited across the country. Lorraine Jessep said most of those placements had worked well. "Most of the dogs alert within the first couple of days and certainly, all within the first week," Ms Jessep said. The Greek family plans to start an organisation to help families that want to adopt a seizure-alert dog, which can cost thousands of dollars to train. In the meantime, the Greeks hope to raise $10,000 for diabetes research at the JDRF's Walk to Cure Diabetes at Centennial Park on October 14. The family has already topped its efforts from last year's walk, during which the Greeks raised more than $4000. Talia has rheumatoid arthritis, which is linked to her type 1 diabetes. Like all people with type 1 diabetes, she is at much greater risk of heart disease, blindness, amputation, kidney disease and other illnesses. There are about 140,000 Australians with type 1 diabetes, which is increasing at a rate of 3.2 per cent a year. To help see walk.jdrf .org.au/NSW/TaliaGreek or register for the walk at www.jdrf.org.au/walk.