Medical Dogs | Office dogs and Dogs at Google HQ
Lucy (our marketing communications manager) and I visited the Google HQ in Kings Cross, London, to attend a special workshop. The Google building, as expected, was incredible. One of the first things we encountered in the buzzing ground floor was, to our surprise, a couple of lovely friendly dogs!
Google has dogs in most of its offices. The dogs are primarily security dogs. Currently they are subcontracted from a local organisation, however Google have just bought their own puppies and are currently training their own team of in-house dogs.
The dogs are also there to help keep workers happy. Office dogs are becoming more popular in other international companies such as Amazon. They have been shown to improve the mental well-being within the office, help reduce stress and generally be a positive addition to the work environment.
The power of dogs in helping people manage a variety of mental health issues is well documented.
Medical Dogs & PTSD
I have just finished reading a fascinating book called War Doctor. In his memoir David Nott describes a time when he had returned from a particularly traumatic mission to Syria and was suffering from acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He was invited to a banquet at Buckingham Palace and had the honour of sitting next to the Queen. It is protocol for her to spend 30 minutes talking to the person to her right and then 30 minutes giving attention to her left – where he was located. The Queen began the conversation asking what he did and where he had been. The poor Doctor found himself on the verge of tears. The Queen was incredible. She turned to one of her courtiers, who returned with a box of dog biscuits. The two of them, then spent the remaining 30 minutes feeding and petting the dogs under the table. He was so grateful for her empathy and sensitivity. Concluding the dinner, the Queen merely said to him that sometimes dogs are so much better than talking!
What do PTSD dogs do?
We have previously written about the amazing dogs who are specifically trained to help with PTSD. We met one of very few such helper dogs in the UK and when in the US were privileged to meet an American PTSD helper dog, where this practice is far more common.
The difference these animals can make to people’s lives is unbelievable. The dogs can calmly steer them away from stressful situations, pick up on their moods, wake them from nightmares, get medication for them and be one step ahead. Enabling the human handler to get on with their normal life.
Dogs are amazingly sensitive companions. With appropriate training, they can provide hugely substantial support to humans.
Could dogs be trained to save my life?
Short answer – yep!
Amazingly, dogs can be trained to identify extremely early signs of seizures or blackouts. They can then alert the patient, giving them time to contact someone and get them to a safe place.
In children, they can alert the parents and get help fast.
How is this possible?
Due to a dog’s incredible sense of smell, they can detect the odour of minute particles in a dilution of one part per trillion. The equivalent of one drop of blood in one Olympic sized swimming pool of water. Medical Detection Dogs is a charity that uses this outstanding skill in order to detect if a patient has cancer or an illness. Dogs can diagnose cancers and illnesses long before any symptoms are likely to show through their sense of smell. Also before any conventional tests would be able to detect them. Dogs, compared to traditional cancer testing methods, are a lot more accurate at detecting if a person has cancer or not. Using dogs instead of traditional blood tests to detect cancer is, more accurate, less intrusive, cheaper and overall better.
An amazing example
These dogs can be invaluable not just in preventing extreme accidents or deaths, but also in helping people construct their lives. A student with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) which causes her to black out around 5 times a day had the help of a trained medical support dog, Henry, to recognise and warn her pre-black out. This allowed her to study for an undergraduate degree at university. Henry, a golden Labrador, even won a ‘Dogtorate’ from Writtle University College!
What more can medical dogs be trained to do?
Many illnesses appear to have a specific odour to them that specially trained dogs can sense in minute quantities. They can diagnose cancers, Parkinson’s, malaria etc long before any symptoms are likely to show and before any conventional tests would be able to detect them. Not only that, these incredible dogs can help people manage long term conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, Addison’s disease and immediately alert the sufferer if they are about to experience an attack or need to take precautionary measures.
These wonderful animals can sweep a room to detect minute quantities of a potentially fatal allergen.
It really is a win/win situation. The dogs love what they do. The dogs work alongside conventional medicine to help detect problems at the earliest possible stage and can then prove themselves invaluable in helping adults and children live as normal a life as possible despite their condition.
Written by Emma Hammett RGN
First Aid for Life and First Aid for Pets courses, encompass many of the illnesses mentioned in this article. All our first aid courses cover how to help someone having a seizure.
First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
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