Do you know anything about DOGS Victoria's therapy dogs?
Neither did I until recently when I was invited to a morning tea with this group of volunteers.
For many years, a group of members were visiting various aged care homes, but as they began to talk to each other, decided that there was a real need for their services and that they should become a little more structured and form the DOGS Victoria therapy dog Group.
This has finally happened and now, under the DOGS Victoria banner, the initial small group of dedicated people has risen to a somewhat larger team who, with their dogs, regularly visit many care homes from Berwick to Rosebud, Toorak and Sydenham.
These visits by the therapy dogs and their handlers are making peoples lives a little brighter with visits from many diverse breeds including Rottweiler, Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, Borzoi, Corgi, Kelpie and Keeshond.
All of the dogs are tested for their suitability to deal with many of the unexpected things that they will encounter in their visits. Things that they will not normally come across in everyday life like, wheelchairs, walking frames, walking sticks and hospital equipment. They must also be sensitive to the ways of the elderly and infirmed.
The residents are so interested in “their” therapy dogs. Recently Kay and her Borzoi (who do a regular visit to a home in Toorak) were invited to take part in a fashion show. This was written up in the newspaper and clippings were collected and put up on their notice board - a real highlight for the residents!
We do know that there are many members who are visiting hospitals and homes that are not part of the DOGS Victoria therapy dog group, perhaps you should contact DOGS Victoria and come under the therapy dogs umbrella. This way you will be afforded all the benefits of the DOGS Victoria insurance and not be exposed to any risk of litigation.
If you think that you might like to volunteer your time and join the DOGS Victoria therapy dogs, you will need to be available during daytime hours, so either not working or a part time worker, if you meet this criteria send Nicky an email or ring 9822 0887 and I’m sure she will be pleased to hear from you.
Please keep in mind that Nicky coordinates this program as a volunteer in between all the rest of the demands on her time, so please be patient when awaiting a return email or phone call. Nicky does not work in the DOGS Victoria office.
Therapy Dogs reaches out to even more people
The DOGS Victoria therapy dogs have traditionally visited residents in aged care homes. The benefit of having these dogs visit is undeniable and program organiser Nicky Abell wanted to share those benefits with even more people. She is always working to expand the reach of the therapy dog program.
Clinton, a Mastiff, is one dog fulfilling this new role by visiting patients in a psychiatric ward in Berwick.
Wellington, the Collie (pictured at right), is another who visits dialysis patients in Cranbourne.
Therapy dogs will continue to visit aged care facilities while including hospitals and other institutions as they grow in future.