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Queen Camilla welcomes four-legged friends to special reception at London home

Her Majesty hailed the work of Medical Detection Dogs charity

Queen Camilla strokes medical detection dogs
Emily Nash
Emily Nash - London
Royal EditorLondon
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The Queen has hailed "completely brilliant" medical detection dogs after watching them at work in her London home.

Her Majesty spoke after watching a black Labrador called Plum, who has been trained to detect urinary tract infections, successfully pick out an affected sample from a line up in the corridor of Clarence House.

Speaking at the event to mark 15 years of the charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD), of which she has been patron since 2014, Camilla recalled that when she first met Dr Claire Guest, its Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive: "There were a lot of sceptics about, people thought how on earth can these dogs sniff out all these diseases. But as you've seen today, seeing is believing. You've watched them do it. I've watched them now sniff out so many different diseases.

"During Covid they were completely brilliant.. sadly they weren't used. Maybe in the future if we have a big pandemic they could be used because they have proved how brilliant they are at doing it."

Hear more from Her Majesty in the clip below...

WATCH: Queen Camilla hails “completely brilliant” medical detection dogs

Camilla then giggled as a puppy trained to deliver her a gift-wrapped pin badge in a basket strayed from the course. As guests watched on, adorable six-month-old golden Labrador Maggie collected the basket and then promptly returned to her handler.

Encouraged to try again, Maggie carried the basket towards a group of reporters and photographers covering the event, before finally turning and dropping the gift at the Queen’s feet to laughter and applause.

Maggie, who is training to become a medical detection dog, was clearly feeling playful however and returned to the assembled media, picking up a furry microphone in her mouth before running away.

Queen Camilla takes gift basket from Maggie the dog© Getty
Playful pup Maggie made the room laugh

Her Majesty, wearing a navy and white dress by Fiona Clare, met supporters and trustees of the charity in the Morning Room and Dining Room and was introduced to two women who rely on Medical Alert Assistance Dogs to stay alive.

The specially trained dogs alert their clients when a life-threatening medical event is about to happen, enabling them to prevent it escalating.

Michelle Sutherland, 36, from Thorngumbald, East Yorkshire, was accompanied by her cocker spaniel Spring, who helps her to manage Addison's disease. She discovered MDD by chance during a visit to Crufts with her old dog Clive, who was behaving erratically around the time of her diagnosis.

"I kept pushing him away, thinking he was the world's most annoying dog," she said. "But he had picked it up by himself."

The charity trained Clive and later matched Michelle with Spring, who can detect a sudden drop in cortisol, allowing Michelle to increase vital medication. Alert Assistance dog Spring helps to save her life daily as she lives with Addison's disease.

Michelle said: "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him, he's given me my independence back."

Queen Camilla poses for group photo with Medical Detection Dogs© Getty
A pawsome group photo as Queen Camilla celebrated the charity's 15th anniversary

The Queen also met Demi Mant, 26, from Middlesex, whose four-year-old black Labrador Bear alerts her to Postural Tachycardia Syndrome episodes (PoTS).

"Bear gave me my life back, I withdrew from so much because I couldn't do all the things I should have been doing as a teenager." said Demi, who was diagnosed in 2017.

Bear nudges her to sit or lie down to prevent her collapsing and injuring herself about five minutes before an episode strikes.

"He really is a life saver – he saves my life everyday," said Demi. "It's just a game that he knows if he lets me know he gets a treat at the end of it. And that's it. He doesn't know what a hero he really is."

Speaking about her meeting with Queen Camilla, she added: "It's been incredible. I was really nervous about coming but once I met her she was a normal person, really warm and really kind and quite funny as well. She was just lovely. It's been such an experience, I'm so honoured to be here today."

Queen Camilla cuts a cake in celebration of MDD's anniversary© Getty
Queen Camilla cuts a cake in celebration

In a speech reflecting on the charity's 15 years and their work to train dogs to detect cancer at an early stage, Dr Guest turned to the Queen, saying: "I'd like to thank you Your Majesty and the King very much for working so hard to improve awareness, at this very difficult time, of early cancer detection and diagnosis."

Gillian Wright, who plays Jean Slater in Eastenders and has been an ambassador for MDD for more than 10 years, said: “It shouldn’t be a charity, it should be funded and on the NHS. It makes such a difference to people’s lives.”

Among the charity’s other famous supporters were This Morning vet Dr Scott Miller and perfumier Jo Malone, who first worked with MDD after detecting an unusual smell on her husband's neck which turned out to be acute adrenal failure. The charity contacted her after she gave an interview about it and invited her to take part in a test alongside the dogs.

"I have a pretty good sense of smell, but not as good as a dog's," she said. "I saw what they were doing and it was absolutely unbelievable."

Queen Camilla talking to Jo Malone at MDD reception© Getty
Queen Camilla speaking with Jo Malone

Jo, who has been an ambassador for MDD for more than a decade, added: "I love dogs and I love animals so this has been an adventure and one I want to stay in my life forever."

MDD is currently investigating the ability of dogs to detect urinary tract infections at a very early stage, preventing progression and hospital admissions. UTIs can be complicated and life threatening if left untreated, especially for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly.

Bio Detection Dogs are trained using samples to detect cancer, Parkinsons, malaria and Covid-19 among other conditions, while Medical Alert Assistance Dogs save the lives of people with complex health conditions like diabetes, PoTS and severe allergies, alerting them when they need to act to prevent a potentially life-threatening medical event.

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