When one man took his dogs for a walk, he couldn’t have predicted how it would end. And then, when the dogs started to behave strangely, he knew something was wrong. The hounds started pulling him in the direction of the woods; it would seem they had found something.
The aforementioned man is Mark White, who lives with his two dogs, Belle and Crew, in Wixom, Michigan. But it was White’s furbabies who were the center of attention in September 2017. And it was all because of a stranger White met while walking the dogs.
The person, a man, had approached White in a bit of a state. But it turned out the man wasn’t taking a stroll himself; there was a different reason why he was out and about. He was searching for someone: his missing wife.
To be more precise, the gentleman’s wife – a 64-year-old woman named Terry Carl – had disappeared. Unfortunately, Carl suffers from the degenerative brain disease known as dementia. She and her husband had become separated, and with the night drawing in, her husband was desperate to find her.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequently diagnosed form of dementia, there are other types, too. Most sorts cause damage to the sufferer’s memory, but that’s not the only symptom. There are other side effects, including behavioral problems, delusions, and – as in Carl’s case – wandering.
To make matters worse, the sun was setting, and the search would be that much harder at night. White told the man that he hadn’t come across Carl during his walk, but he would watch out for her. He recounted the story to WXYZ on September 17, 2017.
“A gentleman came out and asked if I’d seen his wife while walking the dogs,” White said. “I said no, I haven’t, I’ve came up Millstream and I’m going up Maple. I’ll be happy to look for her; if I see her, what’s her name?”
White continued on his walk, but he kept an eye out for Carl along the way. Despite his search along the next street proving fruitless, he was accompanied by much better trackers. And it wasn’t long before Belle and Crew’s keen noses started twitching.
The mutts reacted when they passed some woods separating two neighborhood streets. Belle and Crew’s change in behavior alerted White after they started pulling on their leashes. The doggy duo were tugging their human towards the trees, so White went to investigate.
Subsequently, a cursory glance around the area revealed what the dogs had found. “Sure enough, there was somebody sitting in the woods,” White recalled. “So, we waited for cars to pass by and walked across.” White approached the woman and offered a polite greeting.
Thankfully, the woman was Carl, and what’s more she was found before the sun went down. White and the heroes of the hour then walked the confused lady back to her house. When they arrived, Mr. Carl was in the process of reporting his wife missing.
Wixom police chief Ron Moore told WXYZ about White and his dog’s timely rescue. “The officers were in the process of taking the police report when [Carl] was ultimately found,” he said. Moore then went on to say how thankful he was for the timely assistance.
“This is a great story,” Moore said, “because we value our partnership with our community.” As a result of their sterling detective work, Belle and Crew were rewarded with some much-deserved treats. Meanwhile, Moore tweeted news of the dogs’ work, describing their efforts in finding Terry Carl as a “great job.”
Moreover, Belle and Crew are not the only dogs to locate a missing dementia sufferer. On July 27, 2017, a police dog tracked down another woman who had gone missing. In fact, the unnamed woman from Florida was found within minutes of the dog beginning the hunt for her.
Furthermore, the woman was found using her own scent. A sample of her odor had been specially bottled so she could be tracked in the event of her going missing. And although the scent was two-and-a-half years old, handily the kit used to store it had a seven-year shelf life. Clearly, the woman’s admirable foresight paid huge dividends.
Meanwhile, canines are even being trained as service animals to help dementia sufferers. These remarkable assistance dogs use a love of routine to remind their humans of actions many take for granted. Some dementia sufferers, for instance, forget to eat and drink. So, service dogs can direct their owners to pre-prepared notes that remind them to nourish both the dog and themselves.
Furthermore, their handlers have instructed the dogs to remind dementia sufferers to take their medication. Via sound recognition training, the dog delivers a bag of medicine to their human. Again, these packages come complete with notes to remind the sufferer what they need to do.
Meanwhile, not only can they assist around the house, but dementia service dogs can also offer support in the outside world. Unlike seeing and hearing assistance dogs, though, the animals don’t have a harness. Instead, they walk on a leash like a regular pet.
However, trainers do equip the dog’s collar with a special addition: a GPS device. They also teach the dog to stay with its owner so they can be located, or to track their human if the two ever become separated. Crucially, the device can also emit a noise that sends the dog a signal.
At that sound – or a vocal command – the dog can subsequently direct their owner to safety. If the dementia sufferer is ever lost, then, this helps them find their way back home. There are a whole host of reasons why dogs are called our best friends, and this is just one more to add to the list.