They know when you’re having a bad day or are feeling ill and know just what to do to make you feel better.
No, not your partner or closest friend.
These are dogs, Tibetan Terriers specifically, which are known for their amiable and affectionate temperaments and their sensitivity to their owners’ feelings and needs.
In fact, it is this heightened sensitivity to human emotions that has given them their other name, Little People.
Now a Quadring Fen breeder and two other women who know how the dogs can help children, are starting a new charity project, Paws Beyond Compare, that harnesses the special bond that grows between pet and owner.
The dogs are trained as assistance dogs for families with autistic children, or as diabetic alert dogs or to help children with mobility problems.
Another aspect of the charity is that dogs will go into schools to work with children, something that has been happening in Germany for some years.
That’s where Frauke Neum and Melanie Hill come from, and they got to know Tibetan Terrier breeder Sara Moore and her mother Pat Cross years ago because their families bought dogs from Sara and Pat and have met at shows. Sarah has been breeding and showing them for almost 50 years, and is also a qualified judge here and overseas.
Sara says: “We have had Tibetan Terriers since I was six years old. They have a tremendous empathy and understanding of people and the way they are feeling.”
Melanie Hill, a social worker in Germany, is also a qualified dog trainer, and has written books about the way dogs can assist children.
Frauke, the creative force behind the project, says though they are staying at Sara’s home, they are currently looking for bigger premises to work in.
The work begins when a litter is born, and the puppies showing the right traits – such as making good eye contact – are selected for the project.
Sara will carry out basic puppy training and then families are invited to stay with the women so that an emotional bond can start to grow between pet and child.
Melanie says once the dogs start making eye contact and listening, more training can begin.
She may train dogs to perform specific tasks, such as picking things up, opening cupboards or turning on lights for a disabled child.
With a diabetic child, it might be alerting the parents when an insulin injection is needed, or the dog may be the means by which an autistic child starts to interact.
Visit paws-beyond-compare.com to learn more about the work of these dogs.