On a day akin to Summer the meeting was bursting with members and also manynew members. Our speaker for Friday 6th May was Dr Geoffrey Farrer-Brown a retired Histapathologist and an enthusiastic Ambassador for Medical Detection Dogs (Patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall) and based in Great Horwood, Near Milton Keynes. A surprise for our members that the Charity HQ is so close to Princes Risborough.
In 2004 work started with an article in the Lancet regarding Dogs detecting Human Cancers. In 2008 Medical Detection Dogs with Clare Guest and John Church at the helmstarted at Great Horwood and now have approximately 49 staff from Puppy Socialisers to administration alongside medical staff. A medical detection dog is able to “sniff out” unique odours relating to various diagnoses: Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Urological Cancers and other life threatening conditions.
Dogs are usually ready for advanced training at around 18 months (this obviously depends on the dog itself and his/her development). There is a “no kennel policy” which means all dogs are housed in family homes. (Socialisers). Dogs can be donated by members of the public, breeders, other assistance dog charities and rescue centres – they should be sociable and have a very good sense of smell in order to sniff out the unique odours.
Dogs will work with the “patient” 24/7 and alert throughout the day and night of imminent problems for the sufferer. (a seizure, low/high blood sugar and more). The dog will remain attentive even when the person is asleep and nudge, paw, lick, jump on top of, or whatever way has been learned in order to alert – this varies accordingto the clients needs ! Children and adults benefit from detection dogs with children only attending school with the help of their dog. (unstable Diabetes sufferers).
Dr Geoffrey explained that work is ongoing but that a detection dog is actually more accurate than a machine – this has been proved time and again. The dog is persistent in whatever route it has been trained to, leading to a 95% accuracy.
Costings : total cost of training a Medical Alert Assistance Dog is £11,200. The total cost of training a Cancer Detection Dog is £7,200 with an ongoing monthly cost of £600. Everything is paid for from donations of individuals and organisations and public support and donations to fund progress is relied on. What clever puppies and how clever to enable a person to lead a far more “normal” life which would not be possible without the dogs’ assistance.
What an interesting afternoon rounded off with tea and biscuits.
Sally gave out notices and hoped to see everyone next month.