Category Archives: Therapy dog

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”

 

Its special because it’s true

The day I went to pick Rassilon up from GAP, the Greyhound Adoption Program, I had never seen a greyhound. When I got to the office I saw a small ‘blue’ female and thought I had done the right thing in choosing a greyhound.

When the time came to actually meet Rassilon, the dog I was to take home, I didn’t know what to think. He was at least 9 inches taller than the one I had seen. He wasn’t the lovely ‘blue’ colour, but a dirty spotty colour. I wasn’t sure about his face, and, he was a male.

First Sight

The first time I ever saw Rassilon. Look at his nervous eyes.

I got him as a Foster to Adopt dog, so I had him for 8 weeks. If things didn’t work out I could take him back. But, after only 3 days I sent an email to GAP telling them, “You are not getting your dog back”. He was to be a foster dog for 8 weeks, but I finalised his adoption after about 3 weeks, and the more I see his LIGHT FAWN / BRINDLE coat, the more I love it. Blue is nice, but the light fawn / brindle is uncommon. (And it turns out that with greyhounds, the male is the more affectionate)

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I didn’t write this, but I agree with every word.

Now after 3 1/2 years together, seeing how he has improved from the nervous wreck I fostered, how incredible he is as a therapy dog, and knowing how he has changed me, I am SO PROUD of Rassilon, and I am happy to talk to people about greyhounds and tell them how great he is.

And I bet every other greyhound owner feels exactly the same about their greyhound.

Because greyhounds are more than just dogs, they are companions and friends.

You may not be a crazy greyhound person, but all that means is…you haven’t got a greyhound .

Thoughts of a rescued greyhound

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When my mother was preparing to move to Tasmania, I saw her health falling away. And that was with just 3 weeks of stress. Imagine how it is for a racing greyhound, living with the stress for years. When you see a greyhound that is loosing it’s hair, and it’s back legs are bald…that is the result of the stress of racing. You can only imagine how that dog feels once it learns about it’s new home and life of luxury.

Rassilon’s hair has grown back on his legs and the sides of his chest, and sometimes when we are visiting and people are patting him I can see his hair shedding, but he comes home and gets patted and cuddles and goes to bed, and he is relaxed again. And the more he visits, the more he is enjoying it and not stressing. He has 2 bald spots on his back legs, but I am happy to report that they are caused by his wagging tail rubbing his legs.

In the poem, the one line that get’s to me is…

Got a ball and a bone and a bed that’s all mine.

In the kennels greyhounds have very little to call their own, which is why they can be protective of things when they get into a home. I was lucky and Rassilon was never protective of things and I can even put my hand into his dinner bowl and take food out while he is eating, (this is also a requirement for getting his green collar and for the Therapy Dog Service). Now, with that, I am going to cuddle Rassilon.

Visiting day again

What a great day we had today. We had to go to Bedford Industries today, 10.00am to midday. The good thing is I can’t get lost, because it is just around the corner from the hospital I normally visit.

TDS locations

When we were there one person wanted to take Rassilon for a walk, which is allowed by TDS, but it means putting 2 leashes on Rassilon, so I still have control. Anyway, the guy absolutely loved going out, and when he came in, he went straight to the kitchen to get Rassilon a drink of water.

Dave walking Rassi

Lerttng people take Rassi for a walk means I still have to have control

Later one of the carers gave him a brush so he could brush Rassilon. It turned into a competition to see how many times he gould brush Rassi, and I had to keep count.

Of course, Rassilon was so completely chilled while working with these people who have mental health issues, that when he was being brushed, he climbed up onto the settee to be close.

Dave brushing Rassi

Rassilon took it upon himself to just climb on the furniture

Another resident likes kicking a ball, and will do that all day. But the first time he kicked the ball near Rassilon, poor Rassi nearly had a fit. But very quickly, he got used to it. And in the end, the ball could bang into his legs and he didn’t bother moving. (It was a soft ball, I checked)

In fact, Rassilon was so relaxed that he just lay down and let the guy pat him. Both of them enjoyed themselves.

Jordan patting Rassi

And the cool thing was, although frowned upon by TDS), I was able to let go of Rassilon’s leash and take the photos.

We all had a great time, and it is seeing people and dogs interacting and getting better, that makes therapy work worth the effort.

(P.S. After last week I got new shoes, and my feet are fine even after a 2 hour visit),