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By Debbie le Quesne

Dementia dogs are just ‘paw-fect’

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Friday is always deserving of a happy ‘tail’ or two. So today I have one for you – and I love it.

A golden retriever called Oscar and a Labrador called Kaspa are the nation’s fist dementia dogs.

They have been working with their new owners for four months after 18 months of training.

These clever creatures have been taught to respond to alarms and bring medicine pouches, to nudge their owners to go and read a reminder, and to encourage them to get out of bed in the morning. Just how clever is that!

The dogs work with two people who are in the early stages of the memory-loss condition.

The idea came from students at Glasgow School of Art’s (GSA) Product Design department and was then developed by a partnership between Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs Scotland.

Both animals have been highly trained to help offer practical assistance and reduce social isolation and anxiety levels. And there are a couple of other dogs now in training too.

A further two dogs have already begun their training.

Clearly this could herald a new era in the way people with dementia and their carers are supported.

Oscar was withdrawn from guide dog training and passed across to the Dementia Dog project, whilst Kaspa came from the Dogs for the Disabled socialisation project.

Volunteers started work with them as puppies and at just over a year old they moved into the Guide Dogs Training Centre at Forfar, where they were trained for their new role, with help of staff from Dogs for the Disabled, based in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

I’m such a softie. I love these dogs soooooo much, but seriously, their work opens a whole new approach to dealing with this awful disease.

Hope this blog is just ‘paw-fect’ to raise a smile. Have a good weekend.

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