We went for a visit ti the Daws Park nursing home today. We got there a bit early so I could have my sandwiches and coffee and Rassilon could have a sausage roll. But, I forgot to take cash, and the cafe doesn’t accept cards. So I sat in the car and had my sandwiches, lamb and sweet gherkin I found out something today. Greyhounds like lamb and sweet gherkin sandwiches, so at least Rassilon didn’t go hungry.
I checked my phone before I went into the home, and there was a message from Therapy Dog Services.
We went to Eldercare, Glengowrie on Monday. Of course, I was so proud of Rassilon for dealing with the lift, but today I had some more news from that visit.
Apparently there was a visitor from another facility at the nursing home. They saw Rassilon working, he was talking to people, as he does, and kissing people and having a good time. As a result of what they saw, that person has contacted TDS to sign up their facility for pet therapy visits. So Rassilon is certainly doing his bit for greyhound adoption and pet therapy.
Today we had a good visit at the nursing home. We saw a lot of people and cheered some of them up just by visiting. These are the people we want to get to.
Because I saw people in the hospital I worked in never getting visitors, that was what made me want to become a volunteer visitor. It is such a buzz when you get to sit and talk to someone who would not have had a visitor, Even, like today, when the person was Italian, and didn’t speak English. I stayed with him for a while as he talked. I had no idea what he was saying, but he was talking and patting Rassilon, and that is what matters. He felt someone was interested in him.
Of course, if you want to have a therapy dog, it is best to have a calm dog, and get it socialised as much as possible with people. They won’t be meeting many animals on a therapy visit, but lots of people, so the dog needs to be happy meeting lots of people. (Being comfortable around other animals is still important).
Greyhounds are generally good therapy dogs because of their gentle nature, but they can have some faults you need to keep an eye on. I heard of one that saw a rabbit on it’s temperament test, and had to be taken away from that area because it just locked onto the rabbit and refused to listen to commands. Nursing homes can have pets, so this is something to watch out for.
Another greyhound doesn’t like going into confined areas. I think this might be a carry over from the starting box in training. But I was able to pass on some encouragement to that dog’s owner. Rassilon was scared of narrow spaces, even refusing to go into the lounge at home because the chairs were too close together, but working in the hospital, between beds and chairs, he has got over his fear, and in time, I expect the other dog to get over it too.
TDS is good because they will try to pair the dog to a facility that the dog will be comfortable in. One of the TDS rules is…DOG FIRST. If you see the dog getting stressed, uncomfortable or upset, take it outside for a while and let it relax. They would rather cut the visit short than risk the dog’s health. And greyhounds can stress easily
Another greyhound had trouble with elevators, but with more and more experience, he got over his fear and uses the lift like he’s been doing it all his life.
We need to remember what the dog was brought up with in the kennels, and elevators weren’t something a greyhound would have had to deal with. Think of all the things the dog is not used to, and they can be something it will have trouble with when it gets to see it for the first time.
For some reason I was lucky to get Rassilon. He had BIG problems for the first 12 months (and I didn’t feel lucky for that time), and he wasn’t a people person until I started taking him to places he would meet lots of people, but then he changed and things that scared him, didn’t.
So, if you want a therapy dog, patience is a virtue. The dog will get better the more it does, you just have to prepare it for it’s initial visits, when it will all be new. Get it used to all sorts of strange things. You may want to go to a facility and see what you will have to deal with. (Nursing homes and hospitals have lots of strange noises and equipment being pushed around and patients with walking frames, dog’ss aren’t use to that).
But what you end up with is a dog that makes you super proud…Just Like RASSILON does to me.