Meet 'goofball' Red Fox Labrador Chris being trained to detect seizures by Yorkshire charity
Ellie, a trainer with Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs, is working with Chris, a two-year-old dog in training.
She has high hopes he will eventually go onto the charity’s seizure alert programme, being able to alert a client of an oncoming seizure up to an hour in advance, allowing them time to get to a place of safety and privacy.
Such dogs need to be in tune with their client, as well as having patience and love, she says.
“He has been doing lots of work which gives him exposure in different environments, and focus work,” explains Ellie, who has been training Chris since January.
The tasks he has been learning include fetches, pick-ups and pulls, nudges, as well as “watch me”, which is essential in ensuring the dog can give a warning to an oncoming seizure.
“If the client has mobility issues, Chris will also learn disability task work, depending on who he is matched with,” Ellie explains. “The dogs can also be trained to fetch a blanket, which can help when the client comes round from a seizure.
“Chris will also fetch things and can also pick up his lead if it’s dropped and can load the washing machine. That’s not necessarily part of the seizure alert programme, but he can do it anyway.”
Ellie describes the pooch as being “a big goofball” who is “very excitable”. “He will jump up with all four paws and is really clumsy – he usually falls over when he lands.”
He is currently being fostered by volunteers in Chapeltown. A family with two boys looks after him on evenings and weekends when he’s not at Support Dogs’ training centre.
Support Dogs is a Sheffield-based national charity which trains assistance dogs to help autistic children, adults with epilepsy or adults with a physical disability to live more independent lives.
It is hoped that Chris will be matched with a client by early next year.
To find out more, visit www.supportdogs.org.uk