Meet Cobble – the lovely golden retriever with a bright future ahead of him as a life-saving dog
This gorgeous labrador trained by an assistance dog charity in Sheffield has a big future lined up as a life-saving epilepsy seizure alert dog.
Cobble has been earmarked as a seizure alert dog of the future by the training team at Sheffield-based national charity Support Dogs.
Seizure alert dogs give a 100 per cent guaranteed warning of an epileptic seizure up to an hour in advance, enabling their owner to get to a safe place to have their seizure.
This is life-saving and life-transforming for the client and their entire family and requires extraordinary skill from the dog, trainer, and client. Support Dogs is the only assistance dog charity in the UK that trains dogs to do this.
Cobble had been matched and was set to begin training with someone with epilepsy last year, frustratingly just as lockdown hit.
The impact of lockdown at such a delicate time in building the relationship between client and dog massively affected Cobble’s training. Restrictions meant that Support Dogs was unable to provide the level of face-to-face training sessions required.
As lockdown continued, the decision was taken to pause training until full face-to-face training could safely resume preventing any potential long-term damage to the dog’s ability to detect seizures or to the client’s health.
Happily, Cobble has resumed his full-time training with his client and is now at home with her, alerting well and building up the close bond required for a successful human/canine relationship. The pair are expected to qualify as a partnership next year.
“Cobble is perfectly suited to being a seizure alert dog thanks to three key qualities,” explains his instructor, Kate Breen.
“Firstly, he is able to make real, clear connections between actions and outcomes. Secondly, he has a wonderful focus, and is able to concentrate on tasks without being distracted by other noises, dogs, people or food. Finally, he’s a real people dog, and wants to make close bonds and be with people.”
Support Dogs is a national charity based in Brightside, Sheffield, which trains assistance dogs for children with autism and adults with epilepsy and physical disability.
If you have a much-loved pet dog under the age of three that you can no longer look after, get in touch with support Dogs via [email protected]