By Dr. Becker
Duffy, a two-year-old Labrador Retriever, is testing a new piece of equipment designed for service dogs that assist people with disabilities.
The special equipment is actually a washing machine, created by U.K. commercial laundry company JTM Service in partnership with appliance manufacturer Miele. It’s called the “Woof to Wash.”
Duffy’s Duties as Official Test Pilot of the Woof to Wash
Duffy was trained by Support Dogs, a national U.K. charity working to increase the independence and quality of life of people with various medical conditions. His job as the official Woof to Wash test pilot is to open the washing machine door, load the machine with clothes from a laundry basket, close the door, and bark to activate a voice sensor that starts the machine. When the wash cycle finishes, Duffy is also trained to unload the machine.
While assistance dogs like Duffy are often trained to strip beds, fill laundry baskets, and load and empty washing machines to help their disabled owners, until now they haven’t been able to turn on a machine.
Woof to Wash Is Designed to Make the Lives of the Disabled a Bit Easier
John Middleton of JTM, creator of the Woof to Wash, says it was developed as an alternative to mainstream washing machines that feature complex digital controls many disabled people find hard to operate. Middleton hopes to place the machine in thousands of homes to make life a little less challenging for people with disabilities ranging from poor eyesight to autism.
The Woof to Wash is designed to work on a single cycle and dispense the correct amount of detergent, further simplifying its operation. The door handle is designed to fit in a dog’s mouth.
According to CNET, Woof to Wash is a great example of how a simple technical innovation can have a tremendous impact on a person’s daily life.