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Meet Rocky the Medical Detection Dog

Rocky is a Medical Alert Assistance Dog and a fantastic companion for 7 year old Josh who has unexplained hypoglycemia and Epilepsy and has had many hospital stays since he was born. Rocky has been trained by the Medical Detection Dogs charity to alert Josh’s family when his blood sugars drop dangerously low and could trigger a seizure.

We spoke to Josh’s mum Paula to find our more about this delightful friendship!

What type of dog is Rocky? He’s a Cockapoo

How old is he? He’ll be 2 on the 28th September. He joined our family when he was 9 weeks old.

What does Rocky do to help Josh on a daily basis?
Rocky spends all his time with Josh and alerts us when his blood sugars drop too low by sense of smell. Josh has unexplained hypoglycemia along with epilepsy and his seizures can be triggered by low blood sugar. We test Josh’s blood sugar numerous times a day but are extremely lucky to have Rocky with us who has alerted us many times when his blood sugars drop to a dangerous level which has fortunately stopped things escalating to a medical emergency. Rocky sleeps in Josh’s room and we are confident he will come and wake us if he ever senses a problem.

If Rocky wants to alert Josh, he stands on his back legs and puts his paws on Josh’s shoulder and licks his face. If Josh is asleep he comes to find me and licks my hands to wake me.

Did the Medical Detection Dog Charity advise you about what type of dog to get? We had spoken with the charity prior to buying Rocky and knew what to look for when looking for a puppy to give us the best possible chance of buying a puppy that we may be able to train successfully.  Obviously we knew there were no guarantees on this and also looked for a puppy we thought would be the ‘best fit’ as our new family member.

Did you have to crate train him or was he already crate trained when you got him? We chose to crate train.  He was used to a crate from being with Mum so it was very straight forward.  He took his blanket in with him and was always happy. The training we did with Rocky with the crate was very easy, primarily due to him already being used to one.

During Rocky’s Medical Detection Dog training did you have to attend lots of classes?  Rocky and I used to have one to one training on a weekly basis.  Josh attended the training whenever possible. I would also send off any records of alerting behaviours along with all of Josh’s blood sugar recordings.

What did the training include? Where was the training held? The training was held at a variety of places. It included public access, off lead walking, heal work, distraction work etc etc. We had a train trip, a bus trip, taxi ride, public access – so inside shops, supermarkets etc, in school, busy places and quieter places, all to see how Rocky would react.  And of course, a vet visit.

How long did the training take from start to finish? Rocky qualified at 18 months of age.  The youngest possible age to qualify.  We were training with him from the moment he came home at 9 weeks of age.

Do you have to go for additional training even now he has qualified? We have a first post qualification check 6 months from qualification and then every 12 months after.  If we come across any problems at all at any point, we are fully encouraged to speak with MDD for full support wherever it is needed. We will also attend regular refresher training to ensure Rocky maintains his high standard of behaviour and alerting.

What type of treats do you feed Rocky as a reward? Rocky always has the same reward, dehydrated hotdog sausage – his absolute favourite!

Is Rocky allowed to go everywhere with Josh?
Yes he is. Rocky has to wear his ‘Medical Alert Assistance Dog’ tabbard whenever we are out in public and is allowed in all public access areas including shops, restaurants, beaches and cinemas.

Rocky and Josh are best friends. Josh trusts Rocky completely and understands that he helps to keep him safe. Rocky is simply a life changing member of our family.

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Medical Detection Dogs is a fabulous charity that trains dogs to detect the odour of human disease. It is at the forefront of the research into the fight against cancer and helping people with life-threatening diseases. To find out more about the amazing work that they do click here

If you are looking to crate train your dog, click here to find out more about the Fido Studio Dog Crate

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A Quacking Rescue Story

A few weeks ago the Springfield Sanctuary in Banbury gained a few extra guests.  Two broods of ducklings arrived at the sanctuary a week apart. We’ve spoken to Joanne, the owner of the sanctuary to find out more about them and to see how they are getting on in their new Omlet Walk In Run!

When did the ducklings arrive?
The first group of 12 came in on 26th April from a village near Witney. The residents had been keeping an eye on them all day as there was no parent in sight. Apparently they were knocked about in the road, went in and out of the brook and got waterlogged, and then ended up in a garden! To keep them out of trouble one of the residents popped them in a recycling box in her garden, hoping mum would come for them. By evening they were cold and limp and there was still no sign of mum so they were brought all the way to Banbury for us to care for.
Less than a week later, on 1st May, we got a call from a house not far from us. This mum duck had laid her eggs under some decking (unbeknown to the homeowner!) and they all appeared one morning! The garden had no exit for the ducklings and so mum could not lead them to water. Mum left them and by evening hadn’t returned. So the ten little humbugs came to us too. So we then had 22 ducklings!

How old do you think they are now?
We think they were around 2 days old when they came in so the older ones are nearly 7 weeks and the younger ones are 6 weeks old now.

When are you hoping to release them?
They should be ready for release at around 8-9 weeks old, so we’re very close now! We are just waiting for their flight feathers to grow so they have the best chance at getting away from predators when they are released.
The younger ones are going to Swalcliffe School but we have not yet decided about the big kids. We will separate them into smaller groups to avoid over populating any area.

Have you named them?
We have named the groups but not individuals. The older ducks are the Big Kids and the younger are the Little Ones! There are only two we can tell apart from the others because the Little Ones are actually Hybrid and two of the ducklings are paler! Down by the canal in Banbury there are a couple of white pekin ducks which I’ve seen a few times. We think these ducklings came from this area and so are hybrid, mallard x pekin.

What do you feed them?
They are fed much like chicken chicks. They start on chick crumb for the first 3 weeks then they move onto Growers Pellets. In the last week or so we have added some duck and goose mix to the growers for variety prior to release. We will need to go and feed them for at least a week after release (gradually reducing the amount) to make sure they are finding their own food.

 

They love playing with the hose when I clean them! Ducks are ridiculously dirty and we have to clean them every 3 days. When we clean the pen it makes a lovely slurry of what we have called ‘Duck Poo Soup’ (it’s as pleasant as it sounds). The ducks have clean water in drinkers all the time but as soon as you get the hose out they start drinking. So I spend a lot of time sweeping up duck poo soup, dodging drinking ducks, and getting filthy! They also like to get in the paddling pool before it’s filled and paddle around playing in the hose spray.

Have you introduced them to the chickens or any other animals that you have at the sanctuary?
We have set up our Omlet Walk in Run as two runs which share a wall. The little ones are in one side and our rooster chicks Rodger and Mike are next door (Roger and Mike hatched at a school on 21st March and came to us with their sister as the school didn’t want them to go back to the farm to join the food chain!!). The boys were fascinated but the ducklings seemed completely oblivious. The boys have recently found their voices and crow if we are seeing to the ducks and not giving them any attention!!

We love the walk in run. We have another large run but we lost one of the big kids to a fox who managed break the ties and get under the chicken wire. The Omlet Walk in runs are much sturdier. We love that they are modular so I can add length to the run and link runs together to save space. They will be fantastic for introducing rabbits for the first time when we need to pair up lone rabbits, as they will be able to meet with a barrier between them. The size will allow the rabbits to be rabbits! Jumping, hopping, flopping and binkying with lots of space for a pair of bonded rabbits. With the amount of cleaning we have to do the height is ideal as we can stand tall while we sweep up. The stable door is great for putting feed and water in without little animals escaping! It’s also a great width so I can get in with a bucket and brooms. Having a cheaper run we can see the difference in quality and I would definitely change the large run for an Omlet one in a heartbeat! No sharp edges or chicken wire, plenty of headroom so no stooping, nice wide door and fox resistant. Everything I need for the wide variety of animals we get in.

The runs are earmarked for our pheasant chick when he is big enough to go out. His name is Pippin and he has a best friend called Hobble who is a Pekin Bantam chick with a dodgy leg! They will hopefully go out into our Omlet run once the ducks have been released.

To continue reading about the ducklings as they get ready to be released, please follow the

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This entry was posted in Interviews