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‘Reject’ guide dogs are put to good use in the fight against Covid-19

Three dogs that failed to qualify to be able to guide blind people have been given a new lease of life. Meet Ivan, Maple and Spencer: our secret anti-Covid salvo.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 21/10/2020, 18:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:24

They are all two years old and extremely hyperactive, but that didn’t stop them from giving guide dog training a damn good shot. They did well, the three dogs, but their training in the end did not bear fruit.

However, rather than returning to general circulation - and a quiet life in front of the fire - the intrepid threesome found themselves seconded to the charity Medical Detection Dogs.

Meet the team

Ivan and Spencer (Labrador-Golden Retriever crosses), and Maple (black Labradoodle) will join the UK’s elite Covid-19 detection squad in due course, and on completion of a rigorous series of tests. 

The three have already passed the initial four-week course and will start their official training next week, according to The Metro.

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The dogs’ stamina and good cheer are said to be the ideal traits of the sniffer dog.

The idea of deploying dogs to sniff out Covid carriers has been on the cards since the start of the pandemic in the UK, and training appears to be going well. In some parts of the world Covid sniffer dogs are already in action.

All manner of illnesses

Medical Detection Dogs leads the way in their training of dogs that detect not just Covid but other conditions and illnesses.

Director of Canine Affairs at Guide Dogs Tim Stafford told The Metro his charity was “delighted” to be able to collaborate with Medical Detection Dogs.

He said, “Medical Detection Dogs has given these dogs a new career that suits their high energy and search drive, and everyone at Guide Dogs is excited to watch them go on to do amazing things.”