It is no secret how challenging guide dog training is, and not many pups are cut out for the job. These three canines from the UK belong to those guide dog fails. But although they are not meant to help the blind, they are now set to help in some other way: detecting COVID-19.
Golden Retriever-Lab mix Spencer and Ivan, along with black Labradoodle Maple, had been with the charitable organization Guide Dogs since they were puppies. The non-profit, which aimed to raise and train dogs for blind people, bred the three pups and had helped them become better companions for their soon-to-be handlers.
However, after two years of training, all three proved to be unsuitable for the job. Ivan was very outgoing and loved playing search games more than anything. Maple, although armed with a strong drive, preferred to play ball than focus on training.
Meanwhile, Spencer, who was known for his high energy and love for sniffing, was also unfit for the guide dog role. Because of this, the organization decided to withdraw them from guide dog training and donate them to another charitable organization, the Medical Detection Dogs.
This charity had been training canines to detect various diseases for the past several years. With the threat of COVID-19, they had recently partnered with the Durham University and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to organize a team of elite canines for the fast and non-invasive detection of the disease.
Tim Stafford, Guide Dogs’ Director of Canine Affairs, knew that Ivan, Spencer, and Maple’s search drive and high energy would prove to be useful in this mission. And as expected, the trio passed their initial four-week trial with Medical Detection Dogs and had begun their official training.
If their training came up to be successful, the three pups would be deployed in public spaces and would significantly help in the fight against COVID-19. Watch their story here.
Courtesy of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK)