Dr Dog


An indisputable crowd favourite from the Top Dog Film Festival is Dr Dog. This film follows 3 unique ways in which dogs assist in the medical friend, in a way that only dogs can! Full of heart-warming moments and incredible feats of science, Dr Dog, is an amazing look at the Dr Dog’s that are helping humans and dogs alike!

Did you know that there is a doggy blood bank and that dogs can donate blood for other dogs? Well, there is! And, they can!

In Dr Dog,  we highlight the work that the blood bank at SASH Vets (Sydney, NSW) does daily, to keep their blood supplies up so that dogs that come in for surgery or through the Emergency Room have access to it when they need it!

In the film, we meet Tyson, who came in to the clinic at SASH, really, really sick. During his time there he had to have 10 blood transfusions, which, for a dog or not, is a LOT of blood! Thankfully, due to the blood bank that SASH Vets has and the donor list of generous dogs that are willing to come in and donate. The blood donations from healthy, young (under 7 years old) dogs literally save lives.

Dog blood donor
Tyson, one of the blood donor recipients of the SASH Vets Blood Bank

Heading across the ditch to spend time with our Kiwi cousins, we learn about the absolutely incredible work that the K9 Medical Detection New Zealand dogs are doing! The amazing trainers at the K9 MD New Zealand academy train willing and eager working dogs to assist in the detection of cancer and other diseases. Just WOW!

The dogs that train under the K9 MD team are exceptionally talented and really love the work! These breeds of dogs get satisfaction out of tasks and jobs and they are rewarded handsomely with treats, toys and cuddles.

Pauline Blomfied is the founder and director of K9 Medical Detection NZ and is a true dog lover! In addition to training dogs for their work in cancer detection, she is the author of 3 children’s dog safety books, a dog safety advocate and a public speaker with a special interest in canine genetics and behaviour. Such a dog-loving list of achievements! A dog’s nose has up to 300 million scent receptors (compared to a human’s 5 million). Additionally, the part of the brain dedicated to analysing scent is 40 times greater than ours. Their sense of smell is 100,000 times more accurate than humans. DEFINITELY the perfect attributes for scent work!

Dexter, a doggy blood donor for the SASH Vets blood bank

The Northern Hemisphere has some amazing medical dogs too and we are lucky enough to meet Blackberry, the diabetes alert dog. Andrew, aged 16 and Blackberry’s person, tells us, “sleep is one of the hardest things for a diabetic when they’re young because when you’re sleeping you can’t wake up to the feeling of being low. So the strategy for a family without a diabetic alert dog would just be set an alarm 4 times a night and go and check.”

Andrew and his family have found that Blackberry’s training, kind disposition and attentive nature to be not only calming for their home but also for their anxiety around the highs and lows that come with having diabetes.

Blackberry has repeatedly shown how incredible she is at her medical job, but picking up on Andrew’s high’s and lows’ before his glucose monitor does. On countless occasions, Blackberry has picked up on a high or low that Andrew is having, before the  monitor does, and sometimes even alerting him about one when the monitor was wrong!

The dogs alert in various different ways. They give 2 signals – one to indicate that there is an issue and then another to confirm that the blood sugar is high, or low. There isn’t a standard alert that all diabetes alert dogs perform. The trainers look for behaviours that the dogs don’t offer naturally, and then train the dogs to use those behaviours to alert their humans to diabetes high or low, using a different signal for each.

Pauline Blomfield, founder and director of K9 Medical Detection New Zealand

Learning about these 3 unique ways that dogs assist in the medical field, what do you think now about whether or not you think dogs would make good dr’s?

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