Home lifestyle Meet the guide dogs being trained to 'sniff out coronavirus' in £500,000 trial

Meet the guide dogs being trained to 'sniff out coronavirus' in £500,000 trial

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Meet the guide dogs being trained to 'sniff out coronavirus' in £500,000 trial


Ivan, Maple and Spencer may not have come up to scratch as guide dogs… but as one door closes, another opens.

Although they were found to be unsuitable as helpers for the blind, the two-year-olds have become the latest recruits for a trial to see whether dogs can detect coronavirus.

The charity Guide Dogs has donated Ivan and Spencer, who are labrador-golden retriever crosses, and Maple, a labradoodle, to Medical Detection Dogs in Milton Keynes.

Training manager Chris Allen said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Guide Dogs for giving us these three ­fantastic dogs.

“Growing up as guide dog puppies, they’ve already had lots of experience being out and about in busy places.

The dogs are using their willingness to please and wanting to use their nose in a positive way, said the charity

“The dogs thoroughly enjoy ­working. We’re using their willingness to please, their drive, their wanting to use their nose, and shaping and redirecting it in a positive way.”

Tim Stafford, director of canine affairs at Guide Dogs, added: “Guide Dogs is delighted to be able to support Medical Detection Dogs and collaborate in the fight against Covid-19 with this ground-breaking work.”

The trial, which is supported by £500,000 of government funding, involves scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Durham University.

The trial is supported by £500,000 of government funding

Medical Detection Dogs chief executive Dr Claire Guest started training dogs to detect cancer in 2002 and set up the charity in 2008.

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A year later, her labrador Daisy – trained to detect bladder and prostate cancer – started pawing at her chest. Doctors discovered she had a breast cancer tumour.

In September, Finland was the first to announce a trial at Helsinki airport offering coronavirus tests to passengers using specially-trained dogs.

And in Russia, small fox-like ­canines called Shalaikas are also being trained to detect coronavirus, The Moscow Times reported last week.





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