I have just seen this amazing video on You Tube, which was uploaded in June of this year, I believe. It shows a dog on his hind legs pushing his wheelchair-bound owner through flood waters in a street in Russia, just as a person helping would! Parts of Europe experienced higher than average rainfall at that period which caused extensive flooding in that area, and that was where this video was shot. You can clearly see the dog on two legs pushing the wheelchair, as they make their way through the flood water. How heart-warming! It is a striking visual reminder of the way in which dogs help many people throughout the world with disabilities.
It might seem unlikely for dogs to walk on their hind legs in this way, but there are some like Australian cattle dogs who can indeed do this for certain limited periods of time, whilst pushing an object. Scientists are currently working on ways in which dogs can help humans by wearing computerised devices as aids. Designs of this type are currently in progress at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The project they are working on, to help owners communicate with their dogs through portable technology, is appropriately called F.I.D.O! (Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations). The idea is to fit the dog with the device via a vest or a collar, which the dog activates by biting or tugging it, or even just placing its mouth near the sensor, and the owner at the other end could then give instructions.
This type of technology is still in its embryonic stage, since issues such as the battery life of such a device would still need to be worked out. The theory is that the dog wearing the device could signal to the owner about a wheelchair-accessible entrance to a building, for example. Additionally dogs trained to sniff out bombs could use the devices to signal to handlers about what type of bomb they have discovered. Also rescue dogs could signal remotely to the rescue team if they have found an injured person.
Dogs are most certainly of great benefit to humans in many ways, whether they are disabled or not, and these type of devices do show a lot of potential, if they can be launched for practical purposes.
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