Toronto Service Dog Helps ROM staff members and looks adorable doing it

Toronto City News – 6 August 2021

“A service dog at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) not only provides life-saving support but looks adorable while doing it.

The ROM posted a photo of Basil Mae for International Assistance Dog Week (Aug. 1 to 7) and the golden retriever was dressed for work with a lab coat and goggles.

Basil Mae, who also has her own Twitter account, is a medical alert service dog trained in cardiac alert and mobility tasks for ROM Ph.D. candidate Jade Simon, the ROM posted.

Simon, a dinosaur paleontologist, tells blogTO that Basil Mae is nearly two years old and is a service dog in training. Simon has a connective tissue disorder (Hypermobile Spectrum Disorder / hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome), which affects her balance and can cause heart issues. Basil Mae smells a high heart rate and paws Simon to warn her. 

Basil Mae has been photographed in her “science gear” beside a Tyrannosaurus Rex and watching as Simon works. The gear isn’t for fun, it protects Basil Mae in the lab, says Simon.

“Those are the same goggles military and police dogs use,” she says.

The ROM was very supportive of Simon but Basil Mae needed the proper protective gear in the lab. Simon studies growth in dinosaurs and cuts bones in the lab.

One of Basil Mae’s favourite things to do is to push service door buttons at the museum, and while service dogs cannot interact with people, she is popular around the ROM.

“I definitely get a lot of smiles.”

International Assistance Dog Week was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations.

While many people are familiar with guide dogs for people with vision loss, dogs can help in many other ways. Assistance Dogs transform the lives of their human partners.

Service Dogs can help people with disabilities with walking, balance, dressing, transferring from place to place, retrieving and carrying items, opening doors and drawers, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs and aiding with household chores, such as putting in and removing clothes from the washer and dryer.”

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