I’m delighted to talk about my experiences so far about training our two year old pup (Nelly) into a therapy dog. A big thank you to Leonie for inviting me to be a guest blogger to talk about my experiences.
Having a background as a Speech and Language Therapist, I’ve always had a passion for animal assisted therapies and interventions so when the opportunity arose, I really couldn’t say no. Who wouldn’t want a therapy dog? It’s every therapists dream, right?
Let me introduce Nelly…
She’s a two year old Clumberdoodle (her mum a clumber spaniel and her dad a standard poodle) so she’s very fluffy and cute as you can see. She’s got a lovely nature. She loves nothing more than being around people, having lots of cuddles and rolling around in the mud or muddy puddles!
We got a reply…
I wasn’t sure whether Nelly was calm enough to become a therapy dog but I thought I’d enquire. I’d regret it if I didn’t! We were invited for a temperament assessment to see how Nelly would get on. She was assessed on things like whether she was bothered by traffic, whether she naturally came towards people, whether she was able to wait whilst we were talking. I just hoped she wouldn’t jump up! Nelly was very calm and loved all of the fuss, and when there are cuddles to be had, who is bothered by passing traffic. “She passed her assessment with flying colours” and we could start the process of finding placements.
The first visit will always be special
Nelly and I went on our first visit, not an easy one but a very rewarding visit to a palliative care patient. The patient gave Nelly treats and she allowed him to cuddle and stroke her. His smile said it all. He loved watching Nelly “do her thing” and the social aspect of being out in the fresh air talking. Nelly’s tail didn’t stop wagging, she was one happy pup! Although a sad outcome, it’s one I’ll remember forever, I hope Nelly does too. She really made a huge difference to someone in their final days. I was truly grateful I could share this with her.
Nelly’s in demand
Another email came through as the hospital had heard about how well our first visit had gone. They were keen to have us. After just two visits, we already feel part of the team. Nelly is fussed by all of the patients who want to see her, and their smiles could light up the room. The patients described seeing Nelly as making their day, and that she’s so lovely, very calming.
To share this experience with my fluffy friend is incredible. I hope she realises how much she is loved by everyone. She’s one incredible dog making a difference one paw print at a time! I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.
You can follow our pet therapy journey on Instagram @Nelly_therapydog