The "Woof to Wash" machine has a bark-activated "on" switch. A special "paw" button allows the pooch to easily open and close the machine's door.
The inventor, John Middleton of U.K. laundry company JTM, intends for the "Woof to Wash" machine to make laundry an easier task for people living with disabilities by letting them delegate the trickier parts of the job to support dogs who have been trained to load and empty the machines.
"We developed this machine because mainstream products with complex digital controls seldom meet the needs of the disabled user," he said.
The Sheffield charity Support Dogs is training the animals to operate the new machines.
"People who are visually impaired, have manual dexterity problems, autism or learning difficulties can find the complexity of modern day washing machines too much," Middleton told Anorak. "I had been working on a single program washing machine to make things easier, and there was a lot of demand for it."
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He continued, "But then I saw a video from the charity Support Dogs, where a dog strips a bed and loads the washing machine. I was completely blown away and instantly thought I could invent a machine where the dog does everything. So I got in touch with Support Dogs and they loved the idea. They said it would be a huge help to their severely disabled users."
"Doing your own laundry is something most of us take for granted. Thanks to JTM's revolutionary machine, support dogs of all sizes can load the machine, bark to turn it on and, with the push of paw, open the door and unload the washing," Rita Howson, director of operations for Support Dogs in Sheffield, told the Yorkshire Times.
The machines should be available soon.
According to JTM's website, "Plans are underway for this ground breaking machine to enhance the quality of life and independence for thousands of people with wide ranging disabilities across the U.K."