Yesterday our horse riding stables had a visit from Medical Detection Dogs, which was naturally incredibly exciting! We gladly welcomed Rachel and Merlin,two yellow Labrador puppies, who are in training to become fully fledged Medical Detection Dogs. Of course the puppies were adorable, but not only was the visit informative for their education, it also proved to be very interesting for us too as we got the chance to speak to the trainers and find out a bit more information about the charity too.
For those of you aren’t aware, Medical Detection Dogs is a charity which specialises in training dogs to detect the odours that are given off by numerous human diseases. Their training is a very in-depth process and way before it even comes to teaching the puppies to assist their owner in managing their complex medical issue in their day-to-day life, the puppies first have to become socialised and well-adapted to a wide range of situations. This is where the visit to the stables came in. While it may seem odd that the dogs should need to become comfortable around horses, after speaking to the trainers we actually found that some of the individuals that other dogs have been paired with in the past have had their own horses and so it is now another situation that is quite useful to get the puppies comfortable with at a young age.
Neither the three year old puppy Rachel nor five month old Merlin had any issues at all with interacting with us or the horses once they had been at the stables for a while and had the chance to suss it all out, in fact by the end the super brave Merlin was coming nose-to-nose with a couple of the horses!
It was so lovely to see them working, and while their visit may have just seemed like a bit of fun to us, as they just allowed the dogs to take a good look (and sniff!) around, all of this basic level training leads up to so much more and each outing like this takes time and costs money for the charity. And the money part is where it all becomes a bit tricky as Medical Detection Dogs rely entirely on public donations and trust funding as they receive no money from the Government for the work that they do. To put it simply, without the money that comes from us, the public, none of this training would even be possible and right now a lack of money is slowing the progress that they could be making.
I’ve been a supporter of the work that this charity does for a while now, having completed several sponsored horse events to raise money for them, but they need so much more support than they are currently getting in order to continue doing the live saving work that they do.
So all of this just leaves the question of, what can you do? Well there are so many different ways that you can help; for as little as £4 a month you could sponsor one of their training puppies, if you want to do a bit more you could name your own puppy, or volunteer your own time. Of course these are just a small selection of the ways that other members of the public are helping, and if none of these options quite take your fancy then there are so many other things that you could do as well!
For more information on how you could help or for some more general information on the charity you can visit the Medical Detection Dogs website.