Dogs Reclaiming Their Place As Human ‘Sensory Assistants’

A nice BBC article discusses the growing use of of what I call ‘sensory dogs’ (in this case ‘hearing dogs’) to help humans manage sensory-deprivation illnesses:

‘”Hearing dogs”, as they are known, could transform many young lives by offering companionship, confidence and independence.

Not only that, but these specially trained dogs could improve behaviour at school and lead to better academic performance, a recent study has found.

James Cheung is 11 years old and the owner of Kurt, a golden labrador retriever.

Kurt is specially trained to respond to household sounds that a deaf child cannot hear, like a door bell ringing, a telephone sounding and any alarms going off in the home.’

Of course, the very process of domestication of dogs was about expanding the sensory range of the primitive humans to assist with hunting, warning of danger, etc.

It’s ironic that the use of ‘sensory dogs’ has gone into decline somewhat in the last few hundred years with the expanded usage of technology. But there are things machines just can’t do.

I hope to see greater usage of ‘sensory dogs’ not just in the areas of sight and hearing enhancement but also for ‘tactile enhancement’ – retrieving things out of reach for people in wheelchairs and the like.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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