Author Archives: David

About David

I adopted a GAP greyhound when my Doberman was put to sleep. Owning a greyhound is different to owning another breed, but worth the effort.

It had to happen

Well, it finally happened. We had a bad therapy visit today. And we went all the way to Mitchum, in the heat, to have it too.

The nursing home was okay, they had the paperwork with the list of room numbers we were to go to, and we got to most of them, but something happened that ruined the visit and slowed it all down.

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Ready for work with his TFS bandanna (for identification).

It started off well enough. We got a parking spot right in front of the home, and the weather was terrible, it was well over 33 degrees. I wanted to get as close to the home as possible so Rassilon wouldn’t burn his paws

I got Rassilon out of the car and into the nursing home where I was able to sit and update my calendar with next month’s TDS visits. TDS phoned me earlier as I was driving, so I just had to quickly note the dates on a scrap of paper.

We met some people in the tea room, a resident with her son, so we went and talked with them. When I went to fill in my paperwork, the son came and asked if his mother could have a photo with Rassilon, so I gave him the leash so I could finish my forms and he could get the photos.

Rassilon went with him and got his photo taken, the I got him back and we went to do our visits. That is one good thing, Rassilon will not struggle to stay with me, he will follow his leash, (so I can leave him with someone if I need to go to the toilet or get a drink).

As we walked into the second wing, Rassilon saw Albie, the home’s pet cat. Well that was it. Visitation concentration was lost, and the cat now filled his mind.

We went into rooms and met people, but Rassi was constantly pulling towards the door to get out and find the cat.

When we came out of the home at about 3.30pm, it was 40 Celsius. I had to rush Rassilon to the car so he didn’t burn his paws. Luckily I remembered to take a jug of chilled water, so when he was settled in the car, he polished off a bowl of water.

Before the visit I got a phone call from TDS with next month’s visits. Things are getting good. I have to go to Glengowrie a few more times and Micham one more time, then I have a visit to Bedford Industries (this is the place for people with mental health problems and Rassi loves going there), then on November 15th we start at Noarlunga hospital. Woodcroft nursing home has signed up for TDS visits. They were getting another company, but they weren’t reliable. The only condition is…Rassilon must be the visiting dog.

Of course, you can guess how proud that makes me feel…almost proud enough to forgive Rassilon for STEALING the leg of pork off the kitchen bench, where I had left it to cool… ALMOST

So, we will be getting 2 visits a week, but they will be local. Then we can still fill in occasionally at other places.

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Dogs, cheering people up without question

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My philosophy of life.

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The stress of therapy visits?

Rassilon and I went to the Eldercare nursing home at Glengowrie today. We have only been there once before, and Rassilon had to deal with the lift for the first time.
Well, he had to deal with it again today, (and again, no problems), One thing did catch Rassilon’s ear and eye in the home, the budgies. He stood about 3 feet from the cage, but his ears were up and he was having a good look. Then we went and visited patients in their rooms, even getting a request to visit one lady who was not marked on the list.
(It was good there today because I was asked about Rassilon’s racing history, so I was able to tell everyone that he never races and how I was lucky enough to get him from G.A.P.)
He pleased the resident by giving her a doggy kiss and letting her hug him (greyhounds aren’t the hugging type of dog and will normally pull away), then he even spoke. She loved it all and definitely wants to see him next week. Then, as I talked, Rassilon showed how relaxed he was visiting her (that makes the residents feel good too).
Actually, I don’t think Rassilon does stressed.
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I’ve had my exercise, I’ve had a hug and I’ve had your biscuit, now I can relax in the sun.

Just how good is he?

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In his T.D.S. ‘uniform’

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.

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It all starts somewhere.

Super Proud Greyhound Dad

I have to say I am bursting with pride because of Rassilon and his visitation skills. And today we had the Therapy Dog Services trainer with us, and she has said she is going to give a glowing report on Rassilon because of how he behaved today.

But let’s go back a week or two. We went to Daws Park nursing home

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Daws Park Nursing Home main enterence

We haven’t been there for a while, but Rassilon knew where he was. We started a bit early because one of the residents was going to go out for some x rays and was going to miss the dog visit, so we went in early just to visit him. On the way back we saw an area with some chicks in it. That was there so the residents could watch the chicks hatch and grow.

But of course Rassilon saw it too. He put his nose right against the pen they were in, but he only looked, no attempt to bite or even bark.

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How a greyhound looks when he is REALLY interested.

After the visit I was allowed to have a cup of coffee while I did the paperwork, so I went into the lounge area and Rassilon lay down and I went to the kitchen to make the coffee. Against the (stupid) law and TDS rules, I dropped his leash and left him alone, with the following result…

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“I’m free to do what I want, but what I want to do is SLEEP”.

Today we went to another new facility where Rassilon would face something he has never had to face before.

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We were working on the top floor today, so for his first time, Rassilon had to face…an elevator.

He walked in with no problem, not even a little hesitation. I took him to the back of the lift and knelt beside him and hugged him as the lift went up. His ears were forward and he was trembling a bit, but only when the lift was moving. When the door opened, he casually strolled out. he didn’t pull on his leash or try to get out quickly, he walked perfectly beside me. Sandra, the trainer, wes very impressed. (Almost as impressed as me).

She was telling me they had one dog that got in a lift then panicked and froze and they couldn’t get it to move out of the lift.

We went around to visit residents and staff, and Rassilon was very forward today. Some people got a kiss, and some people got a bark, and everyone was thrilled by him. Even the staff didn’t mind his barking, because they could see he was wagging his tail and it was a friendly bark.

Of course, Rassilon’s big test came about 90 minutes later when it was time to go down in the lift.

Same procedure, Rassi walked perfectly into the lift without the slightest hesitation, to the back of the lift, big hug, even less trembling, and walked out perfectly. He has never been in a lift before, and I know they can be daunting things if you have never seen one before, but Sandra and I were both extremely impressed by how Rassilon coped with it.

We go back there next week and the week after that, and I think that by then the lift will hold no worries for Rassi.

On the way home we stopped off at Hungry Jacks and got a hamburger each and I had a coffee, After that we went to a little park opposite the HJ’s car park and Rassi had a pee, then we came home and  Rassi is asleep on the floor next to me. In a minute he will be asleep on the bed next to me, because that is where I am going, for a mid afternoon “Nanna Nap”.

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(Rassilon has woken up. He went out and has come back in puffing and panting, which means ZOOMIE. He has also told me, in his own inimitable way, he wanted a ‘chooky foot’, which I gave him and he is now crunching up in the garden. (his chickens feet are frozen in packs of 3)

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My father was a man of few words.

I always remember him saying to me, “Son”

 

New places, New faces

Well, since the Repat Hospital visits have stopped for a month, while they transfer to Noarlunga, Rassilon and I have been to Daw Park nursing home, where we used to visit, then this week we went to Resthaven nursing home at Mitcham. It is BIG.

When we were leaving Daw Park, a resident who had just come back from a trip out with family, came up to pat Rassilon. He loves dogs, so didn’t want to miss out of the visit.

As we were talking it came out that he was the winner of the 1950 Stawell Gift (pronounced Stall), a famous Australian 120 yard foot race. It is becoming more famous as international runners turn pro and travel all around the world competing. However, 67 years later, I think I could have beaten him (well Rassilon could). (Stawell is in Victoria)

This week we went to a new place for us. It was BIG. I might talk too much, but I overstayed the visit by about 45 minutes and still only did about half the place.

Most people loved seeing Rassilon, but you always get one that is a misery, and when they start going on about the dog, the saying comes true.

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Yep, and it can be hard not showing how annoyed you are.

Anyway…we have another place to go on Monday, but I don’t know how we will get on. Apparently it is even bigger, with 200 residents. But we will have someone with us showing us where to go. I think we only need to do half the place, and someone else visits on Friday to do the other half.

On the good side, this should only be for a month, then Noarlunga Hospital will be starting visitation on November 6th, and I believe they may be having 2 visits a week, so that will give me my 2 visits, or they may want a different dog to visit once a week, for variety. But as TDS considers how far you have to travel to do a visit, I am the prime visitation candidate. Plus, some people will not travel too far to do a visit, and of course, some get into a rut and will only visit the same place, never going somewhere new.

I sent a special invitation to the Medical Records section at Noarlunga Hospital telling them that a dog will be visiting and they were specially invited to come and meet him, because without them I wouldn’t have had Rassilon. But of course the invitation was on 2 pages, with the reveal of the visiting dog on the second page (SURPRISE)

I was working there when I had to have Kia put down, and it was Sue that said she was thinking of getting a retired greyhound, so I looked into it, The fact that I could get a greyhound quickly (Rassi came in and needed to be fostered so they called me the day after I first contacted them), was certainly the biggest influence in my decision, but so to was the price. Greyhound (including, desexed $190.00, microchipped $180.00, vaccinated $99.50, vet check $64.00, dental check $64.00, with a collar $27.00, leash $35.00, coat $45.00, muzzle $15.00 and green collar assessment $150.00  in the price) …$250.00. Or my ONLY other choice, Doberman, just 8 weeks old ,,,$1200.00. and you still have to get all that other stuff that comes with a greyhound.

So now Rassilon is so much more comfortable dealing with people than when they first met him, they will be impressed at how much he has changed since he was still in his first 12 month, learning all things new, period.

I shall finish off now with one of my favourite greyhound pictures. I have had this up before, but I love this picture. It is so GREYHOUND.

 

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All good things come to an end.

Well today was our last visit to the Repatriation General Hospital. It was a quiet visit today. I think they are trying to get as many patients out of the wards as they can, so they can have an easy transfer to Noarlunga Hospital.

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Ward 1 Repatriation General Hospital, for the last time.

We did the visits to the wards, but on the way out to the carpark there were some people having coffee at the cafe. It wasn’t hard to work out that it was family meeting a patient for a get together and a drink. One of the visitors wanted to pat Rassilon, so I let her. Another, that was confined to a wheelchair, was thinking of adopting a greyhound, so she got to meet Rassilon and I got to answer a lot of questions.

When I finished talking to them, there was another woman and her mother at the next table, so we had to go and let them pat Rassilon. Well, just because they weren’t on the ward, why shouldn’t they have a therapy visit?

But rather than have nothing to do for the next month, Rassilon and I actually have MORE to do. Tomorrow we go to the Daw Park nursing home, then we have 2 visits a week until Noarlunga opens for visitation.

Once Noarlunga is back, we will still do 2 visits a week, but it means I will only have to drive down towards Adelaide once a week, Noarlunga Hospital being 5 minutes away from home.

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A bit far for a greyhound to walk, but a very short drive.

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NHS front entrance (under canopy)

(Notice the difference in size between the hospital and Colonnades, a shopping center).

 

From the DOG

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Regarding #5. EVERY dog owner will tell you that there are words their dog understands. If I ask “Do you want to go for a wee”? Rassilon racing to the door tells me he understands.

If I ask Rassilon “Do you want a chooky foot”? (chickens foot), he runs to the freezer where they are kept, so not only can dogs understand the words, they can also relate words to items.

That is why (strange as it may seem to non dog owners), I will tell Rassilon I am going out and will be back soon. He understands and goes to bed to wait, then goes crazy when I get home. If I don’t tell him I am going out alone, he will try to get into the car then will not want to go inside. Dogs are SMART.

Regarding #10. The more dogs you have, the harder this becomes. But remembering that the dog will be scared without your presence will hopefully overcome your sadness. Remember, you will be the last thing your dog sees. I left my last dog at the vet to be put to sleep, and I regret that so much when I think of how scared she must have been all alone.

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