Roger Salmon column

Roger Salmon.
Roger Salmon.

Humans and canines have lived in domesticated coexistence for thousands of years.

Dogs enhance our lives in any number of life-affirming and health-giving ways.

The relationship we have with dogs works both ways in helping each other.

Dogs know so much about people and they seem to know more about us than we know about them.

They know how we are feeling and the things that dogs have been trained to do is amazing.

In America there are programmes for the rehabilitation of criminal offenders by the use of animals.

The programmes teach inmates how to groom and care for animals.

They provide a stabilising influence in people’s lives through interactions that are both mentally and physically rewarding.

They provide skills and values that inmates can take into the outside world.

This has reduced the number of re-offenders by a considerable proportion.

Dogs are increasingly being recognised for people who have severe health problems. Dogs can alert diabetics when their blood sugar is too high or too low and they have been used since the 1980s to alert epileptics to bouts of fits.

Cancer detection is another field where dogs show an innate sense for prevention. The first British canine diagnosis programme used dogs to detect bladder cancer. As it is a non invasive and cost effective procedure it is better at detecting early cases.

In America they are training dogs to detect breast cancer and the most recent programme trains dogs to detect cancers of the colon and rectum. Often it is not detected because people think that they only have indigestion or inflammatory bowels. It is a major killer- the third most common cancer in the UK.

What it boils down to is that dogs know a lot more about what makes us tick than we do about them.

It is partly due to their acute sense of smell and an incredible ability to read body language. People think dogs are telepathic when it comes to human behaviour, but we probably go through a sequence and they recognise a routine behaviour.