Goldendoodle carries her oxygen tank on her back

The sick little girl given a new leash of life by her dog: How Mr Gibbs keeps Alida, 3, alive by strapping oxygen tank to his back

  • Alida can run and play with dog as he follows her while carrying oxygen
  • She can survive briefly if tubes come loose from tank on golden doodle
  • Family moved 2,000 miles so she could be with specially-trained animal

A sick little girl is being kept alive thanks to her best friend – a dog who carries her oxygen tank on her back.

Alida Knobloch’s faithful canine companion Mr Gibbs has been specially trained to shepherd the three-year-old, who breathes though a tube most of the time.

He follows her closely as she plays in her family's ten-acre land in Louisville, Georgia, uses the slide or even rides her bike.

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Faithful friend:Alida Knobloch, who breathes through a tube, with dog Mr Gibbs who carries her oxygen tank

Faithful friend:Alida Knobloch, who breathes through a tube, with dog Mr Gibbs who carries her oxygen tank

Alida, who was diagnosed with neuroendocrine hyperplasia of infancy (NEHI) when she was just eight months old, is able to breathe without the tube.

But it is very difficult for her and Mr Gibbs is on hand for when she needs the oxygen. It also means she can move around without having to carry the heavy canister herself.

 

Often the pair move about in tandom as she plays while breathing through the tube and he runs alongside her. 

Alida and her dog

'My best dog': The toddler cuddles Mr Gibbs at her home in Louisville, Georgia

The tubes can be reinserted into the tank if they come out. But it is not that easy for a toddler to do and her parents prefer them to be removed only when they are close to hand.

Her rare condition was only discovered in 2005 and has just 800 documented sufferers worldwide, it causes diseased pieces of the lungs to filter oxygen through extra layers of cells making it hard or almost impossible to breathe.

For Alida, and her parents Aaron and Debbie Knobloch, it meant that even a walk in the park was very difficult because equipment was too heavy for the youngster to be able to carry herself.

As parents they wanted to do something to help their daughter navigate life despite having a tube trailing her at all times.

The couple found out about 'service dogs' from a TV programme and realised an animal trained to help the blind could be trained to help Alida.

They found help in the shape of golden doodle - a retriever crossed with a poodle - dog Mr Gibbs and even moved 2,000 miles from their native Utah so Alida and Mr Gibbs could be together.

The family realised there was a long waiting list for service dogs and didn't want to take one away from someone else who might need it more on the list.

Now - thanks to trainer Ashleigh Kinsley - Alida and Mr Gibbs love nothing more than playing and running around together with the dog literally acting as Alida's life saver.

Alida loves Mr Gibbs so much she said: ‘He's my best dog.’

Mr Gibbs


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