We are a human team of two - myself
and my (long suffering!) husband Tim - and our eight 'bomb proof' dogs make up the full team. We have worked with
people with dementia since 2011 and, with our dogs, are able to bring out sometimes unexpected and always positive
reactions from the least likely person. The dogs presence enables the start of gentle conversation, which we can then build
on. Residents are fascinating, they have always led the most interesting of lives and have a wicked sense of humour!
We bring at least six dogs with us for each session
(and up to the full eight, depending on what we are doing), so that there is always a mixture of activities and
therapy going on at the same time. The dogs also work their magic
in the one to one visits in the residents rooms, with the room bound or harder to reach people. Our
dogs have assisted many residents and pupils with many different needs and they certainly have unique skills that
reach into peoples hearts. They can 'see' things in people that we humans cannot and that is what makes them so wonderful.
Due to the sensitive nature of some of the residents and young people we work
with, it is not always possible to photograph or video the dogs at work.
the interactive and entertaining part of the session. Many of our activities are competitive participation or speed games
- resident v. dog, such as Bobbin spinning, Hankie Grab and Socks on a line! Some are a more simple interaction, for example
- Xavi collecting stacking cups, one by one, from a resident and stacking them back in order. The dogs also like to
show off their own skills - such as playing a mini piano or the castanets, indoor mini agility, or a wagon train with Breeze
being the train driver of mini carriages holding each small dog.
The dogs perform over
50 different activities/tricks.
The dogs bring their own equipment…
the form of therapy. Our dogs all have the most wonderful loving, happy, temperaments. They are able to bring out golden moments
that witnessing staff have been happily shocked at - non communicative residents/pupils verbalising, physical conditions seeming
to melt away as residents/pupils reach for the dogs and moods are lifted as they cuddle, stroke and chat to the
little dog on their lap.
We have visited over 120 local establishments
- care homes, day centres, dementia cafes, schools and work places - and are pleased to have ongoing weekly, twice monthly,
or monthly bookings with many of them. Therefore we are able to build on these special relationships each time we visit.
The residents and pupils love to hear about the dogs latest adventures and there has always been some comedy moment to
recount since the last visit. Some residents have their 'favourite' dog and keep photos of them in their rooms. Sometimes
the best times are when a well rehearsed and practised activity goes completely awry and the ensuing chaos turns out to be
more enjoyable than the planned activity!