Service dogs help their owners achieve a better quality of life, but the relationship between Helen Bree and her retriever mix, Amber, is more than that. They live in England and have been together for two years, and in that time, Amber has become an invaluable part of Bree’s life. After health problems from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy forced Bree to retire in her mid-fifties, she didn’t think she could get her quality of life or happiness back.
Bree first thought about getting a service dog when she saw a television show featuring the work of Canine Partners, a charity that matches people with a service dog to provide assistance. After applying to be matched with a dog through Canine Partners, she was soon contacted to meet one of their service dogs, Amber. They were matched a short time later and together underwent a two-week training course before heading home.
Amber now helps Bree take off her socks and shoes at the end of the day and even learned how to tuck her into bed. “At my request she goes to the bathroom to fetch my nightie and fits my legs into bed using her nose,” Bree told the DailyMail. They work together to do daily chores and Amber helps Bree put clothes into the washing machine. Amber is just one of many service dogs across the globe that help their owners with chores and provide companionship. Amber and other service dogs might soon see some help with their daily chores as more companies are beginning to realize that there is a need for more dog-friendly appliances.
A United Kingdom laundry company, JTM Service, has created the world’s first “dog-operated” washing machine, the Woof to Wash. The machine has no start button, but instead begins to wash when it detects a dog’s bark. The machine is designed with buttons and handles specifically meant for dogs. The chew toy handle makes opening the door a breeze, and the foot pad allows the dog to unlock the machine. A built-in detergent storage bottle releases measured amounts once the machine has been loaded. All a dog has to do is load the clothes, bark to activate it, and unlock then unload the machine once it’s done. In a YouTube video showcasing the machine, John Middleton of JTM Service said that the company’s passion is to, “support independent living.” When talking about the Woof to Wash he said, “It’s our contribution to make life just that much easier.”
With appliances being modified for service dogs, there is sure to be a greater amount of independence bestowed upon service dog owners around the world. As for Amber and Bree, they will be together for many more years to come and they couldn’t be happier. “She is gentle, kind, intuitive, hard-working and has been the best thing to come into my life,” Bree told the DailyMail.