Domestic dog, or the Canis lupus familiaris, have long been loyal companions and a part of the family unit. But many may not realise just how amazing these creatures are. Whilst you’re cuddled up on the sofa with your furry pooch, you might not expect that their capabilities reach far further than snuggling and looking adorable.
Hearing Dogs for the Deaf Community
Hearing dogs act as a deaf person’s ears. These superbly trained dogs are able to alert their owners to both everyday and emergency situations and sounds. From letting their owner know the doorbell has just rung, to warning them that the smoke alarm is going off, these dogs aid the deaf or those with hearing difficulties to get through daily life in as normal a way as possible.
Medical Detection Dogs
It sounds like something out of a heart-warming movie, but these dogs are trained and able to detect the odour of human disease. Their charity is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer and helping people with life-threatening diseases. Bio detection dogs are trained to find the odour in samples such as urine, breath and swabs. As well as this, they can detect minute changes in an individual’s personal odour triggered by their disease, and alert them to an impending medical event.
Epilepsy is one the most common neurological illnesses around. Seizure Alert Dogs are trained to provide a 100% reliable warning 15 to 45 minutes prior to an oncoming seizure. They enable their owner to find a place of safety, reducing the risk of injury and maintaining their dignity. Support Dogs also provide Autism Assistance dogs trained to provide safety and to facilitate a more independent and socially inclusive life for both the child with autism and their family. Also, Disability Assistance Dogs are trained to improve independence for people whose physical disability significantly reduces their quality of life. This includes raising an alarm in an emergency, opening and closing doors, picking up objects and assistance with dressing and undressing.
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide dogs act as the eyes of blind and partially sighted people, helping to give those affected as fully functioning a life as possible. These dogs are trained for everyday situations, from knowing how to cross the road safely to helping their owner walk through a path of obstacles without injury. They give a sense of freedom and confidence to those who may not feel able to leave the house otherwise.
Search And Rescue Dogs
Search dogs are used to look for missing people such as hill walkers, climbers, the elderly and confused individuals that may be suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia, those that are despondent, children, and sometimes victims of crime in mountainous areas and land with dangerous terrain. They currently train and qualify search dogs to find those who may have drowned, may be in a collapsed building or may be deceased. These dogs have an incredible sense of scent and are trained to find a missing person, return to their handler and indicate with a bark or by jumping up at them, or pointing at the area of water where a body will be submerged. The dog will take their handler back to a missing person by obeying a ‘show me’ command.
Pets as Therapy
Being in the very presence of a dog has been known to raise morale and release happy hormones. PAT dogs visit hospitals, retirement homes, hospices and schools, bringing sunshine into people’s lives just by being present. Many elderly people will have to have given up their pet dogs due to age and ill health, so they really value these visits from owner and dog which could be the last canine interaction they’ll have for the rest of their lives. A charity that runs the reading programme Read2Dogs helps those who become nervous and stressed when reading or speaking publicly. When the dog enters the group, the speakers often become less self-conscious and more confident as the dogs are non-judgemental. PAT dogs provide comfort, encourage positive social behaviour, enhance self-esteem, motivate speech and inspire young people to have fun.
So the next time someone tells you that it’s just a dog, just show them this wealth of examples to prove them wrong.