The Omlet Blog

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

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This entry was posted in Interviews