By Hayley Pugh
Meet the clever canine who heals wounds for its owner who suffers from a rare congenital condition.
Sinead Ellis, from Toronto, suffers from Parkes Weber Syndrome – an exceptionally rare condition which results in a large number of abnormal blood vessles.
As a result Sinead’s right leg is almost twice the size of her left and the 25-year-old suffers from constant pain, an increased heart rate, various infections and sores and until recently, had lived with a painful open wound on her right foot for over a decade.
However, Paddington the poodle, a service dog in training with Thames Centre Service Dogs, has since turned Sinead’s life around.
The clever canine has used a technique called Deep Pressure Therapy to miraculously heal the wound on her foot by applying pressure to the area on a regular basis.
Sinead said: “My condition affects the entire right side of my body, mostly from the waist down. I’ve had it since birth but was only correctly diagnosed two years ago.
“I often suffer from sores and spontaneous bleeding out and I’d had an open wound on my right foot for over a decade and infection after infection. Doctors had tried skin grafts, different types of therapies and dressings but nothing worked.
“I got Paddington when he was just nine weeks old. He was immediately attracted to that area on my foot and starting lying on it naturally. I think he could hear the arterial blood flowing through and was drawn to it.
“Paddington was taught by the centre to use his head or paws to apply pressure to areas like this. They trained him to do Deep Pressure Therapy on demand.
“Neither me, my family, nor my team of doctors ever thought him doing this would heal my foot but it did due to a combination of pressure that is warm, conforming and non-restrictive like compression garments tend to be – at least in my experience.”
Paddington, who is due to graduate from his service training in April, also helps Sinead with her anxiety and assists the student in getting out and about by helping her balance despite her enlarged leg.
Sinead added: “I originally picked Paddington because he has a birthmark – a spot of white fur on his right foot – just like the wound I had on my right foot. It was just meant to be.
“He’s turned my life around and I couldn’t be without him now.”
Elizabeth Baker, director of Thames Centre Service Dogs, said: “We teach dogs about heart rates and rhythms by playing recordings of heart beats to them.
“We speed up and slow down the recordings and teach the dogs to recognise the change in speed with some sort of action like nudging or getting excited. We then reward them for that behaviour.
“Next we teach them to lay across the person’s lap or train them to do deep pressure therapy on demand relating to specific bodyparts.
“Poodles are ideal for situations like this because standard poodles shed less than other breeds.”
If you would like to help Paddington become a fully qualified service dog please visit Sinead’s gofundme page here.