Category Archives: Therapy dog

Back to almost normal.

Wednesday, Noarlunga hospital therapy dog visiting day. And what a great day it was. Rassilon recognised the hospital and was a lot better this week. I would guess that next week he will be fantastic, and all his stress will have gone completely.

Rassilon was panting today, but this week it was mostly the heat (38 celsius). He was a little stressed, but as the visit went on, he stopped his panting. By the time we got to the lock up ward (dementia patients), he was fine. Of course there were different nurses around, some from RGH that he recognised, so they were a comfort to him

There is one nurse from RGH that we haven’t seen for about 2 months. whenever Rassilon saw her down at RGH she ALWAYS got a kiss, even I don’t get kisses like that. Well she was on the ward at Noarlunga today, and even after 2 months Rassilon remembered, and she got a kiss.

After the visit, which takes a bit longer now because the wards are bigger and set up different, we went to do our paperwork. Rassilon isn’t much help doing this, so he just relaxes. I find if I start to talk to a patient, he will give me a hint by lying down for a quick sleep. And today I had the chance to talk to a few people that were interested in adopting a greyhound, and another that was going to foster greyhounds, thanks to having met Rassilon and seeing the greyhound temperament.

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Naughty me, by SA law I am supposed to be holding his leash

When we arrived at the hospital we were stopped by some staff members who “Just Had To Pat Him”. When we were finished our ward visits, we met a doctor who had seen Rassilon on the ward but had missed out on a pat, so I stopped and was telling her all about greyhounds. Then we were stopped by the head nurse from the Dialysis unit, who wanted to know if we were able to go and visit there. I said we couldn’t at the moment, but to see the boss and he might be able to arrange it. And finally we went to the medical records section where I used to work and all the women are always thrilled to see him.

When we go to visit, TDS has a contract to visit 2 wards, and Rassilon and I are insured ONLY for those wards, but if the boss can get the contract changed, I am only too happy to take Rassilon in to meet the people that are stuck in a chair in that unit for between 4 and 6 hours. In fact, I have volunteered to go into the hospital on Christmas day, a day that anyone stuck in hospital would be thrilled to have Rassilon visit. Of course, we have to get insurance company approval.

Because of my failing eyesight, we are not going too far to do visits, so the new place at Woodcroft Nursing Home will be starting visits in December, and Rassilon and I will be going there. My eyes are fine when I drive short distances, but on longer trips, I get more glare which turns the cataracts opaque, and that is what makes seeing difficult.

So we will have our 2 visits a week, but locally, which is great. Depending on just how far the nursing home is, we might not even have to worry about heat restrictions. TDS cancels visits when the temperature is over 34 Celsius, fortunately the hospital is really close and the car has air conditioning, so we don’t need to worry about that, and we are allowed to park right in front of the hospital, so Rassilon doesn’t need to worry about excessive heat for a long period.

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Message to Pets

Dear Dogs

The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food.
The other dishes are mine and contain my food.
Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.
Beating me to the bottom is not the object.
Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. 
I am very sorry about this. 
Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. 
Dogs can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. 

I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom.
If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine,  try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. 
Also, I have been using the bathroom for years –canine attendance is not required.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog’s butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the following message on our front door:

To All Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:

1. They live here. You don’t.

2. If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That’s why they call it ‘fur’niture.

3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.

4. To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don’t speak clearly.

Remember: Dogs are better than kids because they:

…Eat less

…Don’t ask for money all the time

…Are easier to train

…Normally come when called

…Never ask to drive the car

…Don’t hang out with drug-using friends

…Don’t smoke or drink

…Don’t have to buy the latest fashions

…Don’t want to wear your clothes

…Don’t need a gazillion dollars for college,

and…

…If they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

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Playing with toys.

Not Rassilon, but ME.

I have a big back yard. (see photo).

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Big back yard? The car at the back is parked next to a double garage.

I also have cataracts on my eyes. The consequences of the cataracts is that when I go out in the sun, they go opaque and in a few minutes I cant see. It is so bad that if I try to mow the grass in the front yard, I will do one lap of the garden, then I can’t see clearly enough to know what has been mowed and what hasn’t.

As a result of this, the grass in the backyard  got longer and longer, until it was so long that, around the clothesline, Rassilon would disappear in the grass. After a while it was so bad even my heavy duty lawn mower couldn’t manage.

So, it meant spending money, but I bought a ride on lawn mower.

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This makes mowing fun.

Oh the joy. I have mowed the grass, front and back, so Rassilon can once again have zoomies around the garden. He doesn’t just do oval laps either. He goes in all directions, so now he can see where he is going, he has a ball. He was out there yesterday for about 5 minutes non stop.

Here is the dog that, when I got him, was scared by a plastic shopping bag rustling. Yesterday, after a small zoomie, he came up to me when I called him, as I was sitting on a running mower , and I patted him. Unbelievable. (Don’t worry, I had turned the blades off)

I finished the grass off today by using a brush cutter (AKA weed whacker, strimmer, whipper snipper), and while I did all the edges and around the trees, Rassilon sat in the car. He wasn’t scared, just comfortable. I finished the edges, put the brush cutter away and was walking back to the house when His Lordship decided to get out the car. (A brushcutter is like the rest of the named tools, but it has a solid metal blade and not the nylon wire).

Yesterday I mowed the lawn, and at the same time washed the dishes. The best buy I ever made was the dishwasher. I hate washing dishes. And it does a great job and only uses 9 litres of water for a full wash. And it cleans the jugs I use to mix up my instant milk better than I could do it by hand.

So Rassilon is happy again. He has his back yard race track back again. At the moment he is again in bed, having had yet another zoomie and something to eat,

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A cowboy rode into town.

He wore a paper hat, paper waistcoat, paper shirt and paper trousers.

He was arrested for rustling

Give advanced notice…check.

On November 15th Rassilon and I will be visiting Noarlunga Hospital (NHS) as a therapy dog team. It was thanks to the women in Medical Records (Med Rec) that this is possible, so when I found out I was going to be visiting NHS, I sent a special invitation, carefully crafted to fit on 2 pages, keeping the secret until the last minute. (They guessed anyway).

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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.

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.

Chicks

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”