Two year-old golden Labrador Duffy, a specialist assistance dog trained by national charity Support Dogs, will be demonstrating the revolutionary machine at the organisation’s headquarters.
Although assistance pooches like Duffy are trained to strip beds, fill laundry baskets, load and empty washing machines to help their disabled owners, until now they haven’t been able to turn on a machine.
Developed with innovative technology from leading UK laundry specialist JTM service and in partnership with manufacturer Miele Professional, the ‘Woof to Wash’ washer has a voice activated switch which turns the machine on when the dog barks.
Inventor John Middleton, MD of JTM, explains: “We developed this machine because mainstream products with complex digital controls seldom meet the needs of the disabled user. We had already created a single programme, one button machine, to make life easier for people with a range of different needs. When we heard about the amazing work Support Dogs does, the ‘Woof to Wash’ was an obvious next step.”
Rita Howson, director of operations for Support Dogs, said: “Doing your own laundry is something most of us take for granted. Thanks to JTM’s revolutionary machine, support dogs of all sizes can load the machine, bark to turn it on and, with the push of paw, open the door and unload the washing.”
Plans are underway for this ground breaking machine to enhance the quality of life and independence for thousands of people with wide ranging disabilities across the UK.
John Middleton adds: “A voice-activated washing machine, combined with a single 40 degree wash cycle and facility to automatically dispense the correct amount of detergent, could be invaluable to people who are visually impaired, have manual dexterity problems, autism or learning difficulties.”
Founded in Leeds in 1983 by MD John Middleton, JTM Service provides laundry facilities and services for more than 100 social housing providers and 800 care homes from the Scottish Borders to the Midlands.
Support Dogs provide, train and support specialist assistance dogs to provide help with everyday tasks for people with physical disabilities, give advanced warning of seizures for people with epilepsy and provide safety and support for children with autism and their families.