Saturday, 16 November 2013

Medical Alert Assistance Dogs

Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to help people with life-threatening health conditions, giving them greater independence and above all saving their lives on a daily basis.
Dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex health conditions. They are taught to identify the odour changes that are associated with life-threatening medical events.

The avoidance of dangerously low blood sugar levels (Hypoglycaemia) is an acute daily problem for people with diabetes. When accompanied by loss of warnings it has a dramatic effect on the lives of both the person with diabetes and their family.

Low blood sugar levels are very dangerous if left untreated. Symptoms vary from confusion to seizures to comas, and can become life-threatening.Causes of hypo unawareness can include:
  • brittle diabetes – unpredictable, rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • some medications 
  • long term-diabetes 
  • tightly controlled blood glucose levels
An inability to detect a hypo is common in young children and adolescents as a result of their stage of growth and development. Recurring hypos can contribute to memory and concentration problems. 

For some people with diabetes deliberately raising their blood sugar levels was the only way to prevent severe hypos. We know that high blood sugars over a period of time are likely to cause disastrous consequences including amputations, sight loss, heart disease, strokes and renal failure. 

With their amazing sense of smell our dogs are trained to detect minute changes in blood sugar levels. When these levels fall or rise outside the normal range they will warn their owner, get help and fetch any vital medical supplies.

Medical Alert Assistance Dogs also provide alert dogs for those with other very dangerous health conditions including Addisonian crisis which causes severe pain, convulsions and unconsciousness; pain seizures which lead to collapse and hospitalisation; severe allergic responses, and narcolepsy, a malfunction of the sleep/wake regulating system which causes sleep attacks and paralysis.

Medical Alert Assistance Dogs continues to investigate other debilitating and potentially fatal conditions which their dogs may have the ability to help.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Nina Bondarenko

Nina Bondarenko has a witty and entertaining presenting style that reveals an extraordinary knowledge of all things ‘Dog’. As a breeder, judge, trainer, assessor, behavioural consultant, Nina has developed an in-depth understanding of Canine Ethology, Canine Cognition and Communication, the Human-Animal Bond, and how to help us humans talk to dogs and be understood.

Nina Bondarenko is the author and illustrator of the book “Hearts, Minds and Paws” – a lavishly illustrated book on dogs with unusual working jobs, from blood and explosive detection, through seizure alert and response, and including Assistance dogs such as Dog of the Millennium and Dickens Medal winner Canine Partners 'Endal'

She has been training dogs for specific-purpose working roles for over 30 years. Nina was a founder member of the Dingo Study Foundation (Aus), and she studies wild canid behaviour.

Nina also delivers training on the SCAS courses Companion Animal Interventions in Therapeutic Practice and Practical Training for Therapy Dogs.
Is your dog a happy dog? – FREE Webinar
How can you tell if your dog is happy or whether he or she is anxious, afraid, or stressed? Is it all in the waggy tail or is there so much more our dogs can tell us about how they are feeling?

In this 1 hour online webinar, internationally renowned canine behaviourist and trainer, Nina Bondarenko looks at the common communication signals our dogs make all the time to tell us (and each other) how they are feeling. Invaluable for any dog owner this session should help you to recognise when your dog is a happy dog and when they are not so happy.
If you want more information on online webinars about dogs visit:

Friday, 25 October 2013

New Lease on Life

Rescuing Each OtherNew Leash on Life USA is a new generation prison dog-training program that saves the lives of shelter dogs by training and socializing them to enhance their adoptability while helping inmates learn to train and care for dogs.

With New Leash on Life USA, dogs live in the cells with their inmate trainers 24/7, making New Leash dogs highly desirable for adoption and ensuring the long-term success for both humans and dogs.

Rescuing Each Other...


Previously “unadoptable” shelter dogs, many at the brink of death, now find loving forever homes. Additionally, inmates who have been in and out of prison most of their adulthood now have a skill they can use to gain productive employment.


Improving the life of inmates and saving the lives of dogs. New Leash on Life USA believes everyone deserves a second chance.


5 Year Old Leaves Legacy of Helping Homeless Animals

Sarah Jayne Orton (2)Sarah Jayne Orton, of Finksburg Maryland, was a special child who devoted her short five years of life to helping homeless animals. Sadly, on 10 October 2013, five year old Sarah passed away unexpectedly after falling ill.
Sarah had loved all animals and spent much of her time doing all she could to care for them. Just a few short months before her death, Sarah celebrated her May 15 birthday by asking that all birthday gifts be given as donations to the Baltimore Humane Society, an unusually selfless request for a five year old! Sarah’s dog, Scooter, had been adopted from the Baltimore Humane Society before she was even born. Sarah knew she had a loving and warm home and believed that these homeless animals deserve the same.
After her sudden death, Sarah’s parents knew that she would not want people to forget the homeless animals who are unable to speak for themselves, as this was one of her chief passions. So, they created the Sarah Jayne Orton Memorial Foundation to memorialize Sarah’s life and to support the care of animals at the Baltimore Humane Society.
Sarah Orton with birthday gifts donation (2)
Sarah’s aunt, Nicole Mathews, describes her niece as a precious girl who was even inclusive with her favorite color, which was “rainbow.”
“We all take comfort in knowing that Sarah is now with her beloved pets at the Rainbow Bridge looking down and smiling that her legacy lives on.”
A plaque will be erected at the Baltimore Humane Society in Sarah’s honor.       
100% of the donations to the Sarah Jayne Orton Memorial Foundation will go to the care of the animals at the Baltimore Humane Society’s no-kill shelter. All donations gratefully received at:

Dog Safety Restraints to be installed in SA Ambulances

More and more people are realizing the importance of dogs, and are even taking them into consideration when designing vehicles. Now South Australia plans to implement a program that will allow guide and service dogs to safely travel with their companions in ambulances.
SA Ambulance officials are in talks with Guide Dogs SA and other organizations to work out the best way for the dogs to travel safely while speeding down streets to get their companions some medical attentions.
“It’s all about talking with the organizations to work out what will work best, from what length the tethering should be to where it will be in the fleet,” said SA Ambulance acting operations manager Chris Towie.
“There’s no doubt we’re getting more patients who have an assistance dog of some type, from people with diabetes to children with autism. To leave them (their dog) behind can be really distressing, but at the same time we’ve got to make sure they’re safe and not in the way of paramedics."
“Ideally I’d like to see it happen within the next few months. It won’t be all of our fleet to begin with, but I’d like to think that’s what it will reach.”
Assistance Dogs Australia, who places dogs with adults and children with disabilities, is welcoming the initiative.
“Anything that can help make sure they’re with their owners when they need to be is great,” spokeswoman Amanda Hope said.

Paramedic Simon Cradock sits in his ambulance with Tango the guide dog.  Source: News Limited
Paramedic Simon Cradock sits in his ambulance with Tango the guide dog. Source: News Limited

Monday, 21 October 2013

Woolf provides calming effect for kids testifying in court

Sitting two rows back in the courtroom, an astute visitor during the recent testimony of an abused little boy might have caught sight of the tips of two furry, white ears poking over the top railing of the witness box.

And maybe once in a while that little boy's hand may have snaked down to stroke the big head between those two ears belonging to Woolf, a silent, watchful fellow there to help the 6yr old get through the recitation of the sex acts to which he was subjected.

Woolf, a large all-white shepherd-husky mix with startling blue eyes, is a familiar sight in a number of Lake County schools. He goes to classrooms with Missy Ziler as part of the READing Paws Program, short for Reading Education Assistance Dogs.

His reputation for quiet support is what prompted a Lake prosecutor to ask Missy whether Woolf might help in the case where two boys, ages 6 and 7, were to testify against their father. The younger child ended up testifying with Woolf from an empty courtroom by Skype and the older one had the dog at his feet while he told his story.

That was the point where she decided to create Companions for Courage, a nonprofit organization designed to prevent children from having to face the anxiety of court testimony alone. Missy is looking for other dogs that might help Woolf with the chores. They would have to be very quiet, willing to lay still in a witness box and not cause any distraction in court. No dogs on laps.

Lake Circuit Judge Bill Law, who allowed Woolf to help in the abuse case, said he has seen dogs in the courtroom a few times and is willing to allow them access in the future.

"It's a bit of new thinking," Law said. "Obviously, the dog can't tell somebody how to testify and doesn't have an effect on truthfulness, but it has a calming effect."

Source: Orlando Sentinel 

Friday, 18 October 2013

"I am here" homeless hounds seen for the first time!

In major cities around the world, it is commonplace to see abandoned dogs and cats on the street. Two college students, Violeta Caro Pinda and Felipe Carrasco Guzman, decided to raise awareness of the plight of homeless pups in Chile with a creative approach. The duo tied balloons to street dogs with phrases such as “hug me”, “play with me” and “don’t leave me”. The heartwarming video shows what a mix of creativity and compassion can do to engage strangers and spread a bit of kindness. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center Graduates

The University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center held its first commencement ceremony Tuesday, graduating seven dogs. The center opened last September and was inspired by the canine rescue work on 9/11. The first graduating class contains many talented dogs that will go on to work as search and rescue dogs, medical alert dogs and police dogs.
Socks, one of the members of the first class of graduates from the center, was fitted with a mortarboard and tassel at the commencement ceremony. 
Socks will be starting a career with the University of Pennsylvania campus police force. 
The other graduates of the program are still awaiting permanent placements, but there has been significant interest in all of them. The dogs excel at a range of skills and each dog’s skills are customized to their temperament and abilities. One of the graduates, Thunder, will likely go on to be a search & rescue dog.
“He is bold, he is strong, he has no fear on the ruble, and he will search like a machine, which is exactly what you want in a disaster setting,” said Cindy Otto, Centre's Executive Director.
One of the more mellow graduates, Bretagne, is likely to be placed as a diabetic alert dog.
The second class of dogs training at the University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center is already hard at work. The dogs are donated to the center by breeders and while they train there they live with foster families in the area.
For more information on the center visit their website.

Shelter Dog Shines as Search & Rescue Dog!

Gem, a Border Collie, was unwanted and surrendered by her previous owners when she was a puppy. Now two years later she is a talented search and rescue dog.
In 2011 Gem was surrendered to a local shelter by her owner. She spent several weeks at the shelter and then Pete and Alison Crichton adopted her and gave her a second chance.
Crichton has previously had search and rescue dogs and saw potential in Gem. She excelled at hide and seek games so he enrolled her in the Search and Rescue Dog Association’s training. Gem is now a certified mountain rescue dog and excelling at it.
“I’ve had search dogs for 25 years now and Gem’s my fourth dog, but the first one to come from a rescue center,” said Crichton. 
“She’s been on several searches since she qualified and she’s already showing great promise.”
Gem’s promise is not only recognized by Crichton. Gem won the Madras Trophy for best novice dog on the course at the Search and Rescue Dog Association’s annual dog trials.
Gem is now a member of the Search and Rescue Dog Association Scotland’s mountain rescue team and is on-call for emergency situations. Gem is loving her new job and her new life with the Crichtons.
“She's very enthusiastic about her job and life in general,” said Crichton. “and she’s great friends with our other dog Rusty.”

Great Dane's special bond with little pal

Charlie, a two-year-old Great Dane, has formed a special bond with his family’s three-year-old daughter Brianna Lynch. The young girl suffers from several forms of epileptic seizures, and even though Charlie is not trained as a detection dog he has developed the ability to sense her seizure coming twenty minutes in advance.
Charlie and Brianna have a strong bond and both adore each other. Charlie has taken on a role as Brianna’s protector. When he senses one of her seizures coming on he will pin the child against the wall and not leave her side until someone comes to help her.
“Charlie is so sensitive to her needs; if the other dogs get boisterous; he will stand by her side to ensure she doesn’t get knocked over,” said Brianna’s mother, Arabella. “We know when he is acting strange, she is going to have a seizure.”
Brianna suffers from four different types of seizures, that all tend to happen at night. She suffers from supplemental frontal lobe seizure, grand mal seizures, petty mal seizures and absent seizures. Twice she has had to be taken to the hospital and be resuscitated. She has gone through eight different types of medicine, but through it all Charlie is there to help.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

How Volunteering With Animals Will Help You Live Longer

Volunteering with animals is a great way to make a difference and give something back, but it doesn’t stop there!
Turns out, thanks to a new study linking volunteering to longevity, there may be more reasons to muck in at one of your local animal shelters.
So apart from feeling all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that you’re doing a good thing, you can also take comfort in the knowledge that you’ll live longer than those who’ve never volunteered.
Volunteering for Public Health
According to a recent study published in BMC Public Health, researchers found that those who volunteer and regularly help out in their community were 20% less likely to die prematurely. With that in mind, why aren’t you signing up to get involved with your favorite animal charity already?
After examining 40 different academic papers from the past 20 years and studying the links between volunteering and health, Dr. Suzanna Richards and her team discovered that helping others is directly associated with a positive effect on mental health, reduced depression and increased well-being.
It’s not hard to see how helping out those in need can have such a positive reciprocal effect. Apart from the fact that any physical activity is good for our body and mind, volunteering allows us to develop deep and heartfelt social connections that bond us to one another and in turn causes the release of the hormone oxytocin, which blunts stress and increases feelings of love and empathy. 
Additionally, volunteering also provides us with a sense of happiness and life satisfaction, two things that have been proven to increase lifespan time & time again.
There are a whole host of incredible health benefits from getting up close and personal with the animal kingdom, and when you team the two together, you end up with one powerful combination.
Volunteering + Animals
Studies examining the interactions between humans and animals show similar results when it comes to the hormone oxytocin, and specifically how the bonds we share with animals are woven from the same stuff that merges mothers and infants, and that’s just the start of it. Oxytocin is very beneficial for us. It increases feelings of happiness and trust, and has a powerful effect on the body’s ability to heal, and even to grow new cells.
Growing research shows that the value of human-animal bonding can play a crucial role in child development elderly care, dementia, mental illness, abuse and trauma recovery, physical impairment, and the rehabilitation of incarcerated youths & adults.
Spending time with animals is therapeutic in so many ways, from relationship building to mood boosting and just about everything in between. The significance of human-animal relationships is underestimated, but once discovered, can help you to live a much fuller, healthier and happier life.

Read more:

Have you ever volunteered with animals? 
How did it make you feel?
Here is a list of dog related charities that you can volunteer at:

If I have missed any out please let me know and I will add them to the list...

Monday, 7 October 2013

How Dogs Love us

Do our dogs love us? 

It's a question all dog owners say they know the answer to, but Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns is trying to prove it by training dogs to get in an MRI & scanning their brains. His findings are coming out in his new book How Dogs Love Us.

For more information on the book visit

Sunday, 6 October 2013

SPARCS Inaugural Conference 2013

SPARCS 2013: 3-Day International Conference on Dog Behavior 
Topics: Origins in the Wild, Social Behavior & Emotions, Cognitive Behavior & Development

The Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science (SPARCS) inaugural event was fantastic, with free online streaming of three days of amazing presentations from world leading scientists. 

All presentations are now available online free to members that support this 21st century knowledge-sharing initiative into 2014 and beyond. 

Help us continue to grow and improve by joining the SPARCS Initiative and making continuing education accessible, available, and more affordable.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Oct 4 - World Animal Day - Dogs & Cancer

Oct 4 - World Animal Day - Dogs & Cancer

World Animal Day

World Animal Day was started in 1931 at a convention of ecologists in Florence as a way of highlighting the plight of endangered species. 

Oct 4 was chosen as World Animal Day as it is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

“If there is to be any redemption for humankind, it lies not in thinking about ourselves, but on what we can do to make peace, here on Earth, with our fellow animals and the world of nature.”

Since then, World Animal Day has become a day for remembering and paying tribute to all animals and the people who love and respect them. It's celebrated in different ways in every country, with no regard to nationality, religion, faith or political ideology.

Pope Francis breaks the rules for dogs: Belonging to visually impaired radio journalist
Alessandro Forlani, Asià, a Labrador Retriever, receives a blessing from Pope Francis.

And here in Melbourne...

Join Edgar's Mission at Fed Square for World Animal Day 2013, 
the most important day on the animal calendar!

Friday, 20 September 2013

First Ever UK Dementia Dogs Start Work Helping Owners

Two specially-trained dogs have become the first assistance dogs in the UK to help people with dementia. Kaspa and Oscar are part of a project to investigate how a dog may bring benefits to people with early-stage dementia.
The project, which was generated by students at Glasgow School of Art’s (GSA) Product Design department, then developed by a partnership between Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs Scotland commenced in 2012. 

Both dogs have been highly trained to help offer practical assistance and reduce social isolation and anxiety levels, some of the major problems experienced by couples where one partner has dementia.

For more information on Dementia Dogs click here:

From Pound Puppy to Whale Watcher: How a Black Lab Helps Scientists Track Orcas

Back in 2008, Tucker the black Lab was just another canine resident at SnoLine Kennels in Arlington, Wash. - until he caught the eye of Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology and the Conservation Canines at the University of Washington.
“Tucker was everything we were looking for in a dog,” says Katherine Ayres, lead author of arecent study on whales published in PLoS ONE, in which Tucker had a starring role. “He was a play-driven black Lab that loved to work with his handlers - and he hated water!”
This proved to be a favorable personality trait, since Ayres and her team needed Tucker to stay put on a boat while using his stellar nose to sniff out killer whale feces that they could then collect and test for stress hormones back in the laboratory.

How a Dog Detects a Whale

With Tucker onboard, the scientists could stay as far away as 400 meters from the marine mammals, reducing any disturbance to the orca pods.
“He also minimizes any bias in the sampling, since we are not selecting which whales to follow,” Ayres says, “making our sampling more random and more representative of the whales that are present.”
The ultimate goal of Ayres' study was to test the levels of various stressors in killer whale populations. Her findings: Not having enough salmon to eat is a bigger deal for whales than having boatloads of whale watchers in their vicinity.

Free Phone App: 'Where to Go' for your Dog at Airports

Phone App: "Where to Go" - a directory of airport animal relief areas

opening screen of Where to Go
“Where to Go” is a free app for the iPhone and Android phones, which helps you and your dog find “where to go” in airports across the U.S.

Airport animal relief areas can be difficult to locate -but Where to Go overcomes that challenge.

Just click and find out where to go. It’s that easy.

Airports are listed, with short directions to the relief area at each. There are also links to U.S. Department of Transportation FAQs and updated ADA regulations about service animals, as well as other information.

See more at:

Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin

Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin

Announcing the new open access, online, peer-reviewed Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin(HAIB), devoted to the dissemination of research in the field of the interaction between non-human animals and their human counterparts. 
Researchers, Academicians, Clinicians/Practioners, Scholarly StudentsThe mission of the Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin  is to bring together researchers, academicians, clinicians/practitioners, and scholarly students working in different areas for the advancement of the human-animal interaction field. Click here to read the full announcement and find out how to submit your article!
They encourage the HAI community to make full use of this very welcome new resource. For more information please visit:

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Livestock Guardian Dogs: Working on Common Ground

Ranchers who struggle to coexist with large predators are finding new hope in old dog breeds. While these Old World livestock guardian dog breeds have successfully defended livestock from predators for thousands of years in Europe and Asia, they remain relatively unknown in the American West. Explore how they work for one family, and what it means for the maintenance of large predators, like the wolf, on the landscape.

Dogs can help ranchers and predators co-exist? Watch this video and learn how it works! 

Please note that not all LGDs are trained or reared the same way, and therefore not all are as approachable as those featured in this video.

The development of a best practice manual for the use of guardian dogs to protect livestock will allow land holders to be proactive by preventing predation rather that reacting to attacks.

The Australian Government has produced an online Guide called "Guardian Dogs - Best Practice Manual for the use of Livestock Guardian Dogs" (2010) which you can download free at:

How working dogs are helping conservation efforts

Conservationists around the world are using a new kind of filed equipment. It can navigate difficult terrain, detect tiny samples, and...wag it's tail! Detection Dogs are teaming up with humans to study rare, endangered and invasive species.

In 2000, Working Dogs for Conservation, was set up to assist a group of biologists and dogs travel the world, to study rare, endangered and invasive species.

Vesely and Rogue head into the field to demonstrate the dog's ability to search for Western Pond Turtles.

For more information check out Conservation Ecology Centre and Working Dogs for Conservation (USA).

The Nose Knows

Dogs can detect the smell of diseased bees, ovulating cows, pirated DVDs and cancer. It's all thanks to their top-notch sensory equipment.

An infographic exploring canine sensory equipment.

"The dog has hundreds of millions' more scent receptors lining the pathways of its nose then we do" says Alexandra Horowitz, a dog cognition expert at Barnard College. And the part of the brain that makes sense of all the signals from these receptors 'the olfactory bulb' is much larger in dogs than in humans. "That probably means [dogs have] exponentially more ability to detect odors," Horowitz says.

"If you had an Olympic-size swimming pool full of water and then you have an identical pool full of water to which you add a teaspoon of sugar," says Horowitz. "Dogs can detect the difference. That smells different to them."

Find out more at: 

Working Dogs for Conservation Field Demo

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