Express & Star

Cathy Dobbs: Is there anything those clever canines can't do?

Could dogs be the answer to some of the UK’s biggest problems? The clever canines can sniff out cancer, Covid – and now water leaks!


Across the Channel, in France they are using dogs to find the smaller, quieter leaks in the system that can’t be picked up by other technology. Maybe the answer in dry, hot summers isn’t a hosepipe ban – it could be to find the leaks that, according to Ofwat, lead to over three billion litres of water being lost every day.

Talking of water companies – a big pat on the back to Severn Trent for their free water bottle refill stations at the Commonwealth Games. The water company anticipated that they will have refilled 2.1 million bottles during the games. However, with the warm weather, and the high cost of food and drink at the events, this could turn out to be a conservative guess.

Anyone that has been to the games will understand why countries are so keen to join the Commonwealth. The organisation has been slick, the crowd has been friendly and we have shown the world how supportive we are of each other. While the cheers have been loud for English competitors, audiences got behind all the athletes - no matter where they were from. Also, they clapped just as hard for the people that came in last as for the ones who came in first. Incredible to think that The Commonwealth started with just eight nations in 1949 and has now grown to 56 – each one independent and equal. Membership is voluntary, and no one is going to throw a strop if anyone decides to leave.

I had to use the NHS 111 service this weekend, and even though it was suffering a cyber attack I managed to speak to someone pretty quickly. I’ve not had to call the service before, and the thing that struck me was how many people you have to talk to before you get a diagnosis. Firstly there is the 111 call handler, then there is a phone chat with a doctor, this is followed by a call from someone to set up an appointment for you, then there is a doctor you can see face to face who eventually refers you to hospital for tests. Does it really need that many people to get to the bottom of an illness? Just one sniff and I’m sure a dog could have solved the problem without any need for doctors, tests and visits to hospital. So the question is - could dogs help us solve the NHS crisis?

Another bonus to using dogs at work is that if they have a nice home, love and good food they are happy. They won’t go on strike, demand a pay rise or moan about work. All we need to teach them to do is drive our trains.