Service dogs can help people accomplish many tasks – from mountain rescue to saving bee colonies – but until now, they haven’t really been able to help with one of life’s most mundane duties: laundry day. That’s all set to change, as UK-based laundry and cleaning company JTM has developed the world’s first bark-activated washing machine. Now a service dog can load, start and unload a machine without needing any assistance at all!
Service dogs have already been taught to remove bed linens, load a laundry basket, put laundry in a washing machine, and pull it out – they just haven’t been able to turn the machine on. JTM stepped in to fill this gap in the laundry process with a simple, bark-activated laundry machine called the Woof to Wash. The single-cycle program starts right up and launders clothing, which the dog can unload upon completion. It is the first washing machine that can be run by a canine from beginning to end.
“We developed this machine because mainstream products with complex digital controls seldom meet the needs of the disabled user,” says the products inventor, John Middleton, MD of JTM. “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.”
The machine is still in the prototype phase, but once it begins being deployed in the UK (in collaboration with manufacturer Miele), it will help hundreds of people in need and make daily tasks a bit more easy.