Therapy for different people

Today was hospital visiting day. Rassilon had his sausage roll for lunch and went for a run in the garden. For some reason known only to Rassilon, no matter how desperate he is, he will only have a wee on grass, and that is wherever we go. Never inside or on the footpath.

As we were sitting inside a woman came in to visit her mother. She had her grandson with her, he was about 4 years old. Unfortunately he was recently bitten by a dog, so is now scared of dogs.

His grandmother came over and patted Rassilon, to show the boy it was all right, but he wasn’t having it. He was too scared of dogs. 

Eventually he came close and touched Rassilon, who did what greyhounds do. He stuck his nose in the boys face. The boy realised he wasn’t going to bite, but still wasn’t comfortable, so we didn’t push him, we didn’t want to make things worse.

As we went around the ward we came to the room he was visiting. His grandmother patted Rassilon, and his great grandmother patted him, so feeling fairly safe, he gave Rassilon a big pat, and got a kiss in return.

Forget the hospital patients, THIS is what therapy work is about.

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Rassilon at the hospital.

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The end of a busy week

It was busy for Rassilon this week as a therapy dog. It was good for me too. I went to the doctor and have been booked in to have some horrible steroid injections to fix up my sore foot and sore shoulder, plus I have been booked in for a sleep apnea test. This was noticed by the anaesthetist when I had my eyes done, but the last few nights have been, sleep for an hour, wake up for an hour.

I had to have a government assessment done regarding my ability to look for work, but they have given me a medical exemption, due to all the different things that are going wrong with me (and my age). BUT, that means I am free to do the therapy visiting, so, rather than being ‘unemployed’ or a ‘dole bludger’, I can now use the title of Therapy Dog Handler as my occupation.

And Rassilon is the Therapy Dog who earned his money this week. We had 3 visits. Wednesday at the hospital, Thursday at the University and today at the Unley Community Centre. 3 completely different visits, but each one was good fun.

I think the visit to the university was the most enjoyable for Rassilon because we had company. Another handler brought her dogs along. 2 Maltese terriers. She left them on the leash, but let the leash go, so the dogs could run around. Unfortunately, if I did that, Rassilon, being so much taller, would keep tripping over his leash. So…I took his leash off, and he…did nothing. He didn’t run away, he was just free to walk around and go up to the students and get patted, which he did.

Today we went to Unley. I left early so I could have lunch at the centre before the visit, then I went and got Rassilon out the car and took him back to the community centre, so he could meet the other people that were having their lunch as they came out of the dining room. He was having a wonderful time.

And when the main crowd had left and there were just a few people in the centre, I again let him off his leash, so he went around to say hello, but didn’t go near the door. He is getting SO GOOD. He even had a run at the hospital on Wednesday when I let him off his leash in the garden.

But today, his upcoming birthday present arrived. I like to try to have him wear a different collar every week when we go to the hospital, so today his birthday present of 4 new collars arrived from Dogs 2 Hounds, so he will be good for a little while longer.

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This is my favourite. The colours look really good in real life.

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The Mexican Celebration of the Dead style.

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The turquoise background doesn’t show up, but this will probably be the public favourite.

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We have 4 more visits this month, then next month the R.E.A.D. program starts at Goodwood library (Next month is the start of the financial year). So I am looking forward to that. Not for me, I don’t really like kids, but for Rassilon, who loves kids.

Reading at the table along with the Norfolk terrier girls

So we will wait and see what the future brings. R.E.A.D and more therapy visits.

(R.E.A.D. = Reading Education Assistance Dog)

Click on the picture of the READING dog for more details.

How greyhounds cope with the cold

After quite a nice day when the plumbers and tiler came to fix some taps, and Rassilon got to meet people and get patted, the weather started to cool down.

During the night I remembered that I hadn’t taken Rassilon’s breakfast out of his freezer, so I dragged myself out of bed into the freezing house to get it. (Yes, he has his own freezer).

I put it on the draining board to thaw out, and while I was there I checked the thermometer. It read 4.3 degrees. It was no wonder I was cold.

But what about poor Rassilon? He doesn’t have the layer of fat I do to keep him warm. But as it turned out, he didn’t need it.

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And when I got out the bed, he did his usual trick of stretching out and making himself comfortable, not worrying that I can’t get back in the bed because there is a dog hogging it all.

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It’s all about the greyhound.

I was asked to write some notes about what I do on therapy visits. I have a relative in Scotland that wants to get into therapy dog work. Well, I thought this would be easy and quick. Luckily I have qualifications as a freelance writer, because once I started to write something, that would remind me of something else. So my quick note turned into 3 pages. The journalism meant I was not worried about typing for a long time, and was able to put the thoughts into an understandable format.

Let’s hope it helps him decide, and he gets involved. There is nothing nicer than meeting someone and brightening up their day. But some people wouldn’t like it, because the dog is the main attraction, not the handler.

Rassilon is so popular in the hospital we visit, we can (sorry to say), get away with a few things that aren’t allowed by Therapy Dog Service or the hospital, like barking or being let off his leash in the garden. But by doing a bit more than needed and working with the staff instead of to a timetable, we have gained that freedom.

(Remember, I used to work in a hospital with the nurses, so I know what they do, and I will try my best to help them get their job done)

One thing we do for example, the official time of the visit is 90 minutes, but I don’t think there has been too many days when we have stayed less than 120 minutes. On one occasion we were at the hospital for 210 minutes.

So when Rassilon puts in such an effort to work and meet people for that long, well, he deserves to have a few luxuries, like his own blankets, fresh meat, snack treats or MY BED.

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The ‘lazy gene’

I took Rassilon to the hospital yesterday for his weekly therapy visit. He had some dinner, then we went outside so he could have a wee and stretch his legs.

Well, he had a wee, but even though I wanted to film him in full flight, Rassilon  decided that a slow walk was the way to go. The famous ‘Lazy Gene‘ that greyhounds have kicked in.

So here is Rassilon, free in the hospital garden.

Therapy dog services rules are being broken all the time, but I let them know what is happening, and they keep giving me more shifts. One I am looking forward to is at, the Flinders University Law department. There will be a few dogs there for stress relief during the law department exams. It is supposed to be for an hour, but I have been told that we can stay longer if we want.

We also have a couple of shifts at Unley again, but now I know, I will get there a bit earlier and I can have a meal in their restaurant. The last time I went there Rassilon got a take away meal of steak and kidney pie, something I was NOT tempted to eat.

So, we are in for a busy month with 7 visits. To stay a member of Therapy dogs, I only need to do 1 visit, but I am doing this as I am not working.

Today was a good day

A lot happened today. I had a trip to the doctor and have arranged for some tests, and he sent a referral off to the hospital because I need an operation on my hand. He thought it was something simple that an injection could fix…it isn’t.

Then, my new crash helmet arrived. Now I can’t wait to go somewhere to show it off. It is certainly unique.

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I also got my new scanner. When my mother left for Tasmania she left me all her photos, which I said I would scan and save to a disk for her. But using an ordinary scanner takes a long time. You have to sort the photos into sizes, then you scan one at a time and the scanner scans really slowly. And on top of that, there are probably a couple of thousand photos to do.

So, I lashed out and bought a new scanner. It has a sheet feeder that I can load with 35 photos. The scanner automatically adjusts to the the size, and saves each photo as an individual JPEG. In 4 hours, in between having tea and getting video and photos, I have already scanned 600 photos. BUT, if there is any writing on the back of the photo, it scans that too, so I have to go through the scanned images and delete the backs of the photos.

But the surprising things I found were…A photo of the man I was named after. He was a fighter pilot during WWII, but had a breakdown as a result (PTSD). I was named after him as a gesture from my parents for his friendship. (A am led to believe he was a Spitfire pilot)

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And something I had forgotten all about, before Rassilon I had Kia, my Doberman. The day after I got her I went to visit some friends. I completely forgot this, but I am glad I found it. Kia was about 10 weeks old. (They were Doberman people too)

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Almost 14 years ago. Where has the time gone?

Grey dogs can jump

Hospital visiting day again. Boy that comes around quickly. Of course, I forgot to take Rassilon’s dinner, so I had to buy him a sausage roll. He didn’t complain about that. After I finished my sandwich, I took him out into the garden for a wee, then because the garden is fully enclosed and there were only a few people outside, I broke the rules and let Rassilon off his leash.

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Free to roam, and well away from me.

Well, everyone was fascinated at how quick he was racing around the garden, and ripping lumps of grass up with his big claws, then one of the nurses that was having dinner, put her hand out to him, so in typical Rassilon style, he decided that getting patted was better than running around.

As he was running and I was walking, I got into a gap between a bench and a tree, where he should have run, but I was now blocking it, so, still going fast, he went OVER the bench, the first time I have seen Rassilon jump, and he cleared it easily.

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Over the bench. Grey dogs can jump.

Of course it doesn’t take much to tire out a greyhound, so next week we will save the running until AFTER the visit, because he was too worn out today. He did a good job, and some people might be happy with it, but I know he can do much better.

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Worn out, and we haven’t even started visiting. 

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I’m not homophobic.

I like my house.

Lifestyle conscious hippy greyhound.

On a night when the scenery out the back of the house is so colourful, I was faced with the sad realisation I have a lifestyle conscious hippy greyhound, just after I said, “You wouldn’t eat this”.

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I don’t think the photo conveys the vividness of the colours completely.

I had prepared something for tea earlier on, and I just have to put it in the microwave to heat it up when I am hungry. It is Mac and Cheese with added tofu cubes and extra cheese to bulk it up.

I cut 6 slices of tofu and grilled them, then cut 3 slices into cubes and added it to the bowl with some extra cheese. Later in the evening I was wondering what I could do with the 3 remaining slices of grilled tofu.

At this point, Rassilon dragged himself out of bed and wandered into the kitchen mooching for something to eat, so I held up a slice of tofu with the comment “You wouldn’t eat this”.

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This was the third slice!

I stand corrected.

(This week in the hospital Rassilon had a white collar with pink patches and unicorns on it. People commented on the pink for a male, so I jokingly said, he was comfortable will his feminine side. I didn’t realise he was a hippy).

 

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