When Mark Humphrey’s dog, Mazie woke him in the middle of the night by placing his slippers on the bed, he thought she must be going mad.
But she refused to go away, leaping up beside him and jumping on him until he put his slippers on and followed her downstairs.
Mazie was giving her master a message: Help!
Mazie saves the day
Mark walked into the living room to find his wife Linda passed out on the living room floor with the couple’s other dog, Cookie standing guard over her. Not only was Linda unconscious, she was dangerously ill with blood poisoning.
From her hospital bed in Plymouth, Mrs Humphreys praised the dogs, telling reporters from local radio station, Pirate FM, “My health hasn’t been good for the last couple of months and if I have a really bad day we notice that the dogs are very attentive and very protective of me – which is lovely.”
Mark and Linda are not the only ones whose dogs have intervened to save the day. In fact dogs can be trained to recognise the onset of symptoms in their owners and alert them before they even know they have a problem.
Dr Claire Guest from Medical Detection Dogs told journalists from Pirate FM that, “Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. So anything that changes in our bodies, any chemical changes that result in a change in our odour, dogs can recognise these.”
It’s a canine skill that because of dogs’ unique connection with people, can be harnessed to save lives. As Dr Guest went on to say, “Dogs have been bred for many, many generations to become our companions so they are very, very attuned to us but also very protective. They want to keep us safe and it’s this combination that makes them fantastic and means they are able to warn us of dangers we are unaware of.”
Asked by reporters from the radio station what he thought of his dogs’ actions, Mark Humphreys said, “We’re very, very proud of Mazie. She’s brilliant. She was on the bed, jumping on me, wouldn’t leave me and made sure that I got up. With Linda, since she’s been ill, the dogs are always trying to stay with her, they won’t leave her.”
Medical Detection Dogs
Medical Detection Dogs is a charity that works with universities, scientists and NHS Trusts to develop new ways of testing for hard to detect diseases like prostate cancer. Cancer cells release volatile compounds into the air that dogs can smell and researchers hope to use their study of the animals to develop new, non-invasive ways of screening.
In the meantime dogs can help detect disease in humans by sniffing urine samples. And for people managing complex, chronic health problems like diabetes, specially trained dogs make life much easier. They’re able to pick-up subtle changes in body chemistry and alert their owner so they can take the necessary medication.
Medical Detection Dogs rely on public donations to continue their research, and are keen to point out that they only use previously abandoned dogs to train up to help humans. A real life case of the rescued becoming the rescuer!