For many people with a lung disease like COPD it can become so restrictive and isolating. Many people get to a stage in their condition where they require oxygen 24/7, which means they are linked to an oxygen canister via tubing permanently, greatly restricting their mobility. It can result in people not wanting to go outside or exercise due to having to deal with the hassle of tubing and concentrators and feeling conspicuous. It is especially difficult for children that have respiratory problems who would normally want to run around and play games.
A child in America has a rare lung disease and she has a specially-trained dog who has been with her since she was little. He carries her oxygen concentrator around and always ensures he doesn’t tangle up the tubing and stays within a certain proximity to her. This has meant that not only does the child have a long-term companion to help prevent the feeling of being alone caused by long-term illness, but also allows the child to go out and about, play, exercise and go to school more easily which benefits their health and social development.
This idea of an ‘oxygen dog’ could be rolled out to people of all ages who require assistance, especially those who are elderly, alone and finding it difficult to cope and get out and about due to their need for 24/7 oxygen. A smaller dog could only carry a portable concentrator however a larger dog would be able to carry a small oxygen tank.
The benefits of having the dog as a puppy when the child is also young is that they can grow and develop together. Different lung diseases at different stages will affect the individual differently so having the dog training at a young age with the patient means that the dog can learn how to deal with different situations and develop with the owner and know how to assist them better and predict movement based on behaviour patterns.
Having a dog is not cheap however and is by no means about to become readily available via the NHS, however it is an avenue that some people may be able to afford or raise funds for as a way to help them enjoy a better quality of life.