Sled dogs deliver medicine, therapy dogs go virtual

It is well known that dogs increase happiness, reduce stress levels and improve overall health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, dogs have been a source of relief: whether they’re snuggling up on the couch next to us, in cute online videos, or in refreshingly positive news headlines.

We’ve rounded up the most positive dog-related stories from the week of March 30 through April 5 to show how dogs are making COVID-19 a little more manageable for people across the country.

The Mush Dog team delivers groceries and medicine to vulnerable people

For nearly a month, Hannah Lucas and her team of Siberian Huskies have been helping deliver groceries and medicine to vulnerable Maine residents as the coronavirus spreads across the state. Hannah runs the Northlane Siberian Huskies and Seppala Siberian Sleddog team and a Siberian Huskies kennel in Caribou, Maine. Each day, Hannah leads two teams, each with six dogs, making an average of 4-6 deliveries a day.

Lucas’ dogs are all AKC registered and she is a breeder with HEART

Therapy dog ​​handlers find unique ways to stay connected

Therapy dogs across the country are finding unique ways to stay in touch with those who need nurturing. Take Zuke for example. Zukunft Von Augustine RN THDN CGCA CGCU TKI (better known as Zuke) is a two year old German Shepherd dog born for therapy work and certified by Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Before social distancing was implemented, he visited Golisano Children’s Hospital once a week, attended a ‘Read to SuperZuke’ program once a week at an elementary school, worked one-on-one with abused children at the Children’s Advocacy Center, went to church to visit with members weekly, and be a Lee County Courthouse Dog.

He gained his media fame after spending six and a half hours with three abuse victims as they testified against the abuser at trial and were later interviewed on television. Now that he’s stuck at home, Zuke misses working and interacting with people and children.

That’s when Joy Augustine, Zuke’s owner, got a call from a kid 900 miles away asking if she could read to him on Facetime.

“We posted the session on Facebook and it took off,” says Joy. “We had two more kids on day two who wanted to read to him and we’re going to start doing Zoom lectures for those who don’t have iPhones. Looks like it’s going to be useful for those doing school at home and try to learn at home.

Joy encourages other therapy teams to use the time they used to use for visits to have them virtually listen to a child read to them for 15 minutes. “It’s a positive way to stay engaged,” Joy says.

Can dogs help detect coronavirus cases?

We already know that dogs can use their incredible sense of smell to detect cancer in samples of blood, urine, sweat, saliva, etc. This has led scientists to wonder: can dogs help detect the coronavirus? The charity Medical Detection Dogs has teamed up with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to see if dogs can detect patients with COVID-19.

If the excavations are successful, they could be ready to start work in six weeks. If a dog sniffs someone as positive for COVID-19, they will then undergo a follow-up test to confirm they are positive.

The AKC is here to help dog owners through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Find answers to all your coronavirus concerns, as well as home activity ideas, training tips, teaching resources and more on our Coping With COVID-19 hub.

Bette C. Alvarado