At the end of May I was invited to be part of Medical Detection Dogs Graduation and Celebration Day at Stowe School, near Buckingham. What little I know about the charity has been learnt through my contact with them, since I donated one of Amber’s puppies to them last year. He, Alan, is doing really well. His good temperament, keen nose and love of people probably means that he will become a medical alert dog, working with one of the many human partners whose lives are enhanced by the care and constant vigilance of their canine partners.
Whilst I was enjoying the graduation ceremony in the Stowe School theatre, in the space of just two hours, five dogs alerted their humans to imminent blood sugar drops, blood pressure crashes, and the potentially fatal presence of airborne nut particles, not just once, but several times. I witnessed their “notifications” (usually by placing a gentle, but insistent muzzle on the leg of the human) three times myself.
On that beautiful Spring afternoon, I also met one of MDD’s puppy socialisers, named Diana Dudley. She has kindly donated an article to this site, so that we can both encourage people to get involved with this much needed, woefully under-funded charity. Here is her story, first published in the Bedfordshire Community Life Magazine January 2016:
Being a Puppy Socialiser and Fosterer
I have always loved animals but dogs have a special place in my heart.
It is this love for dogs that sparked my interest in ‘Medical Detection Dogs’, a charity that trains specialist dogs to help people with life-threatening health conditions such as Diabetes. With their natural amazing sense of smell, these specially trained dogs can detect the odour of human disease, giving their ‘owners’ confidence, a better quality of life, greater independence and above all potentially saving their lives on a daily basis.
My Mother has been living with Type 1 Diabetes most of her life and therefore I feel very passionate about this amazing charity and the life-changing differences their dogs make.
I volunteer with Medical Detection Dogs as an approved Puppy Socialiser & fosterer, where I take care of a dog in my home, socialising and training the dog that will eventually be placed with a client. This includes attending regular training sessions facilitated by the charity, as well as learning good dog handling skills and knowledge of canine medical conditions. Additionally, I also support the full-time trainers in a variety of ways such as transporting my assigned dog to scheduled trainings and assessments, and attending community relations activities.
I am also a fundraiser & speaker covering the Bedfordshire area. I attend various fundraising events and my role as a speaker is to visit groups such as Women’s Institute, Guides, Schools etc to promote awareness of the charity and to help raise valuable funds to support and train the dogs.
Not only do I find it extremely rewarding but I have also met some incredible people and witnessed some emotional and heart-warming moments ever since I attended my first Puppy Socialiser session last year. Alongside my role with MDD’s, I have just completed my Diploma in Canine Behaviour to increase my knowledge even further in this field, as well as starting my own dog walking business “Yappy Tails” with qualifying in Canine First Aid.
About Medical Detection Dogs:
The charity has two sides: Cancer Detection Dogs and Medical Alert Assistance Dogs.
Cancer Detection Dogs are trained to identify the odour of cancer. They work in research only by screening samples at the training centre and NEVER detect cancer on a person. The two aims are:
- To assist scientists through research into the development of electronic systems (E noses) that will assist in the early detection of cancer through cost effective and non-invasive tests.
- In the short term, the cancer dogs can provide second-line screening for cancers that are currently very difficult to diagnose reliably, such as prostate, Kidney and Bladder cancer.
- This year, trials are being carried out in detecting malaria-carrying mosquitos, using just material samples from clothing sent from Africa.
Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are fully accredited with the regulatory organisation Assistance Dogs UK, thus allowing access to all public areas like a guide dog for the blind. They are trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions on a day-to-day basis. By detecting the odour changes that are associated with certain medical events, they warn individuals of an oncoming life-threatening episode, therefore allowing the individual additional time to react. This early detection can prevent visits to A&E and vastly improves the quality of life of the assigned patient and their family.
How can you help?
We rely completely on public support and donations and without this, our valuable life-saving work would not be possible. If you would like to support us by making a donation please find out how by visiting the MDD’s website.
Our volunteers play a vital role and make a real difference to the lives of many individuals, children and their families across the UK. Medical Detection Dogs are looking to recruit more volunteers and socialisers in the Bedfordshire area and within traveling distance of the centre in Milton Keynes.
If you are interested in fundraising, volunteering, becoming a puppy socialiser, organising your own event or want to find out more information about the Medical Detection Dogs’ charity and how you can support us please visit www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk.