This year we’ve decided to choose not one, but two charities, both of which we think are pretty special, and we think you will too. From April 2019 we’ll be supporting Medical Detection Dogs and Therapy Dogs Nationwide; both charities train ‘super dogs’ to use their extraordinary abilities to enrich, and in some cases save the lives of people every day.
Main photo: L to R – Jackie Medler, Merryn, Vet Hayley McKenzie, Harrison & Bounce Daley
Our first ‘super dog’ charity is Medical Detection Dogs, a nationwide charity that trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease. We think that’s pretty amazing!
Using the power of their nose, Bio-detection Dogs are trained to sniff out the odour of diseases, such as cancer, malaria and some neurological diseases, in samples of urine, breath and swabs.
The charity also trains dogs to be Medical Alert Assistance Dogs, able to detect minute changes in someone’s personal odour triggered by their condition and alert them to an impending event. Conditions can include Type 1 Diabetes, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS), Addison’s Disease, severe allergies, other endocrine disorders and episodes of sudden health deterioration.
We learned more about Medical Detection Dogs when a client brought her dog Bounce in for a health check.
Stephanie Daley’s teenage son, Harrison (main photo), had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2008 and suffered regular hypos. After the introduction of daily steroids to control a further diagnosis of brittle asthma and despite his best efforts to try to manage his condition, he had 4 seizures due to hypoglycaemia. His fear of going out alone and sleeping at night in case he experienced a hypo, combined with bullying at school, began to affect his mental health.
Stephanie said: “Bounce came bounding into our lives when we needed him most. His ability to detect hypos, 20 minutes before they occur, has helped Harrison grow in confidence and better manage his condition.”
After hearing about Bounce’s extraordinary abilities, we wanted to learn more about these dogs and the lives they improve. That’s why we chose to support this charity.
When it comes to ‘super dogs’ though, we had another wonderful charity in mind…
Therapy Dogs Nationwide works with volunteers and their dogs to provide therapeutic visits within their local communities to schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, care homes, hospices and prisons. Therapy dogs have very calm and gentle natures and have to go through an in-depth temperament assessment and have to be extremely well socialised before they can begin their role as a therapy dog.
Clent Hills’ clients Jackie and Keith Medler, have two therapy dogs, rough collies Merryn and Orla. You may have seen them winning an award recently at Crufts:
Every week, Jackie takes Merryn to visit Holywell Primary School in Rubery and Chadsgrove School in Bromsgrove to help younger children with their reading and confidence. Through the ‘Paws and Read’ scheme, Merryn encourages literacy by sitting with the children as they read a book they have chosen.
Rebecca Sabel from Chadsgrove School, had this to say, “Merryn has an extremely positive influence on the children; they anticipate, and look forward to her visits. We see lots of positive behaviour when Merryn is here, for example turn-taking, participation and following instructions. For others, Merryn is a calming influence, allowing them to relax and they simply enjoy her calming presence within the classroom. Stroking Merryn also calms and relaxes many of the children with anxieties.”
Both dogs also visit high schools, sixth-form colleges and universities to aid students with stress busting and relieving the pressure of exams.
Therapy Dogs Nationwide dogs have also shown to help children and adults with special needs and autism by giving focus and creating a calming environment.
Both charities rely on the kindness and donations of the public and have no government funding. We’ll bring you more news of how you can help us support these amazing charities soon, and if your life has been touched by a Medical Detection Dog or Therapy Dog, we’d love to hear about it.