Learn About the Dogs Being Trained to Detect COVID-19

Source: Tim Lewis,, June 23, 2020

The COVID-19 project is currently in the phase of sample collection, but socks, stockings and face masks have been sent out to roughly 3,200 NHS staff who will wear them for a set amount of time before returning them to the lab for analysis.

Asher was a problem dog. A hyperactive and unruly chocolate-brown cocker spaniel with ears like pittas and a Rudi Völler frizzy shag, he was shunted from owner to owner, maybe as many as seven by the age of three. He was taken on by the charity Medical Detection Dogs, which was looking for working dogs to train up, but even after being placed with a seasoned “socialiser”, Asher still wouldn’t sleep and kept trying to escape. He was set to be returned to a rescue centre until Medical Detection Dogs’s co-founder Dr Claire Guest gave him a final chance.

“We work a lot with spaniels and labradors that people have bought as pets, but they end up in rescue because they’re just bouncing off the walls,” explains Guest on a video call from her home near Milton Keynes, before breaking into a broad grin. “That’s just the sort of dog we love. The reason they’re bouncing off the walls is they just want to do and everything they do, they get in trouble for. We give them something to do!”

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