It’s 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 cuddling on the couch beside 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-April 5 to show how canines are making COVID-19 a little more manageable for people across the country.
Mush Dog Team Delivers Groceries and Medication to Vulnerable People
For almost a month, Hannah Lucas and her team of Siberian Huskies have been helping deliver groceries and medicine to vulnerable residents in Maine as the coronavirus spreads throughout the state. Hannah runs the Northlane Siberian Huskies and Seppala Siberian Sleddog Team and a kennel of Siberian Huskies in Caribou, Maine. Each day, Hannah runs two teams, which each have six dogs, making an average of 4-6 deliveries a day.
Lucas’s dogs are all AKC-registered and she is a Breeder with H.E.A.R.T
Therapy Dog Handlers Find Unique Ways to Stay Connected
Therapy dogs all over the country are finding unique ways to stay connected with those who need cheering up. Take Zuke for example. Zukunft Von Augustine RN THDN CGCA CGCU TKI ( better known as Zuke) is a two-year-old German Shepherd Dog who was born for Therapy work and is certified through Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Before social distancing was implemented, he was going to Golisano Children’s hospital once a week, doing a “Read to SuperZuke” program at an elementary school once a week, working one-on-one with abused children at the Children’s Advocacy Center, going to church to visit with the members weekly, and being 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 in trial and was interviewed on television afterward. Now that he is 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 child 900 miles away asking if she could read to him on Facetime.
“We posted the session on Facebook and it took off,” Joy says. “We had two more children on the second day that wanted to read to him and we will start doing Zoom conferences for those that don’t have iPhones. It looks like it is going to be helpful to those who are homeschooling and trying to learn from home.”
Joy encourages other therapy teams to use the time they previously used 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 Sniff Out Coronavirus Cases?
We already know dogs can use their amazing sense of smell to sniff cancer in samples of blood, urine, sweat, saliva, and more. This led scientists to wonder: Can dogs help sniff out the coronavirus? The charity Medical Detection Dogs has partnered with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to see if dogs can sniff out COVID-19 patients.
If the digs are successful, they could be ready to start working in six weeks. If a dog sniffs someone as positive for COVID-19, they will then be given a follow-up test to confirm they are positive.