Dogs have long been considered to be among the best animals in the world when it comes to learning useful commands and taking advantage of their instincts and tools in order to provide helpful services. From helping the elderly to sniffing out drugs or finding lost individuals, dogs seem like they can do it all.
Dogs are very intuitive creatures. Since way before the days that Lassie first led her owners to find that Timmy had fallen in the well, dogs have been known as animals that have terrific instincts when it comes to something being not quite right. Most dog owners are well aware of this, and if their dogs begin acting strangely, they know there’s probably a good reason for it.
An Everyday Walk
Such was the case when one man decided to take his dogs for a walk on a pleasant day. The man, who was named Mark White, always enjoyed taking his two dogs on lengthy walks whenever the weather was good. Of course, there was no way that Mark could have known the surprise that was waiting for him when they began pulling him toward the woods.
Mark White has a pair of dogs, Belle and Crew. They live together in Wixom, Michigan, which is generally a very quiet community. For that reason alone, Mark was on high alert when he realized that his dogs were acting funny during their walk in September 2017. A lovely early fall day would end up becoming one that Mark would not soon forget.
Man’s Best Friend
Belle and Crew had always been good dogs. They never were aggressive towards people or other dogs. They were always calm and well-mannered. Their owner, Mark White, felt his dog’s lived up to the title of “man’s best friend.” Therefore, he was always observant of his furry friends and if they ever were acting strange, he knew something was up.
While walking the dogs, Mark would frequently run into other people. Sometimes they would be people he was already acquainted with and other times they’d be friendly strangers. So there was nothing particularly odd about the fact that Mark would have a conversation with another man while along his usual walking trail for the dogs.
State Of Emergency
However, Mark White quickly realized that the man was not in a good state of mind. He was certainly not out for a peaceful stroll on a beautiful day; instead, he seemed quite disturbed and more than a little stressed out. After a few terse exchanges, Mark quickly came to understand the reason that the stranger was so upset: his wife had gone missing.
What Happened To Her?
Generally, when an adult turns up missing, many people immediately suspect that there has been some sort of foul play involved. Otherwise, adults don’t just simply wander off into the woods and forget how to get back home, do they? But, clearly, this man was worried. Foul play couldn’t have been the answer.
Cause For Alarm
Mark continued speaking to the man to figure out more information about the situation. Mark soon found out that this was not a typical missing person, as the stranger hurriedly rushed to provide him with useful information. There was an important detail revealed that made this case more urgent than others.
The man’s wife was a 64-year-old woman named Terry Carl. The reason that the stranger was so upset and concerned about Terry’s whereabouts was that Terry suffered from dementia, a degenerative brain disease. At some point earlier in the day, Terry and her husband had lost sight of one another, and her husband was very concerned about her well-being with night coming fast.
For those not aware of dementia, it’s a type of degenerative brain disease that can take many forms, including the most well-known form of all: Alzheimer’s disease. Although dementia is mostly known as a disease that adversely affects one’s memory, other symptoms can arise, as well. These can include behavioral issues, delusions and a tendency to wander off.
Why Does Dementia Cause Wandering?
There are several reasons as to why someone suffering from dementia may wander off. Although it seems aimless, most of the time, the person with the illness isn’t just walking without a purpose. Some of the reasons a person with dementia may wander off: he or she is continuing with an old habit or routine, he or she is confused or looking for something or someone, or he or she is just restless. Unfortunately, this wandering normally causes even more confusion.
As mentioned before, the quickly setting sun made Terry Carl’s disappearance a true emergency. With night approaching, it was going to be way more difficult for anyone to find the location of the man’s missing wife. Mark White was immediately ready to assist and said that he would watch out for the man’s wife during his walk.
Later on, Mark White would recount the entire stunning scenario to reporters. He noted that a gentleman came out of the woods and asked whether he had seen a lost woman while walking his dogs. “I said no, I haven’t, I’ve come up Millstream and I’m going up Maple,” White said. “I’ll be happy to look for her; if I see her, what’s her name?”
Looking For A Sign
Mark White continued to walk in the direction that he was headed. Now, however, he was much more aware of his surroundings, and he began actively looking for any signs of a woman along the road or in the accompanying woods. As he walked along the next street, he began to get disheartened, realizing that his own eyes may not be keen enough to spot Terry Carl.
The Dogs Sense Something
However, Mark White was very fortunate that day in that he was accompanied by Belle and Crew. Although Mark wasn’t going to be able to “sniff out” a person in the nearby woods, dogs are expert trackers. Their senses of smell and hearing allow them to locate people very quickly even as day turns to night. Sure enough, his dogs’ noses began to twitch.
Pulling Him Into The Woods
As the dogs passed some woods that served as a separation between a pair of neighborhood streets, Mark White noted a very strange change in behavior. Belle and Crew immediately started to act erratic and anxious, pulling on their leashes and tugging against Mark. At once, Mark realized that the dogs were trying to pull him toward the nearby trees.
What’s Going On?
At first, Mark thought that perhaps the dogs were taking him on a bit of a wild goose chase. After all, dogs often tend to get distracted by all manner of sounds. For all Mark knew, they could have caught wind of a squirrel or some other type of wildlife in the woods. There was no clear indication why they were pulling their leashes.
Checking It Out
Still, Mark gave his two dogs the benefit of the doubt and entered the wooded area with them. He took a quick glance around, warily looking for any signs of distress in his new surroundings. He patiently waited for cars to pass the trio and he quickly crossed the street. He glanced into the wooded area and before long, he saw what the dogs had been curious about.
There’s Something In There
As Mark approached the wooded area, his dogs become more and more erratic. As he peeked into the woods, he saw something. He couldn’t quite figure out what it was, so he moved in closer. Soon he realized it was a figure sitting down. Mark approached the mysterious figure. Could it be Terry Carl?
They Finally Found Her
He immediately figured out that the woman had to be Terry Carl by talking to her for a quick spell. After having obtained the husband’s address earlier, Mark was able to escort Terry back to the safety of her house just as Mr. Carl was about to officially report her missing. Fortunately, Mark and his dogs had found Terry before sundown.
Praise From The Police
When he was asked about the ordeal, Wixom Police Chief Ron Moore was very complimentary of Mark White and his two lovable dogs. “The officers were in the process of taking the police report when [Carl] was ultimately found,” Moore told WXYZ-TV. Moore said that he and the rest of his department were very thankful for the work done by the trio.
In particular, Ron Moore thought that the story was a great illustration of how the police and the community depend upon one another. Belle and Crew quickly became heroes on social media, as Moore tweeted about their expert police work in finding Terry Carl. Of course, the two dogs received some treats that they had surely earned with their work that day.
Dogs Can Be Heroes
It may be surprising to hear that this is not the only time something like this has happened. In fact, not long before, on July 27, a police dog had been able to locate a missing woman who suffered from dementia. In the case of the Florida woman, however, she benefited from the expert police work of the dog, who found her within minutes.
Using Her Scent
In a very smart and innovative move, police actually used the woman’s own scent to find her. The woman’s caretakers knew that such an event could take place and had prepared for it by bottling her scent. They stored it in a jar, and the police dog was able to smell it and use the scent to find the woman right away.
Helping Out The Elderly
Dogs don’t just serve dementia sufferers by finding them when they go missing. In addition, dogs have been trained to provide those with dementia with a routine that they can latch on to on an everyday basis. Service dogs can even be trained to remind dementia sufferers to drink water and eat food or take them to pre-written notes around the house.
Providing Helpful Reminders
Other trained dogs from the Dementia Dog Project and other organizations have been taught to remind dementia sufferers to take their prescribed medication. The dogs use sound recognition to perform this service, and just as with the other examples, pre-written notes are used to instruct the patients on what they should do once they receive the medication.
Coping With Dementia
In a lot of cases, dementia service dogs have helped dementia patients by getting them out into the outside world so they can live a healthy lifestyle. You may not even notice such dogs on the street, as they tend to walk on a leash like any other pet. These dogs have the amazing ability to know what their patients need and help them out accordingly.
These types of dogs are equipped with special devices, such as a GPS device on their collars. Trainers do this so that they can be located if they get lost along with their patients. Dogs are taught to stay with their patients no matter what so that the GPS device can be used to find them both. The device can also send a signal to the dog that can be used for commands.
Man’s Best Friend
Once such a signal is sent, the dog can send the dementia patient to a safe environment or even help them back home. When it comes to their work with dementia patients, it’s plain to see that dogs are some of the most amazing animals out there. They have long been considered “man’s best friend,” and their work as service animals confirms that role!