Owning a dog brings so much joy to an owner and their family but some owners take it that extra step by sharing the joy of their dog with others and bringing comfort to the sick and infirm.
Along with physical benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, a therapy dog can boost a patient’s mood, motivate them to socialise and interact, and even stimulate memory and senses.
Therapy dog handler Robin Simpson, 61, is well aware of these benefits. He sees them every time he visits an aged-care facility near his home in Sydney’s Neutral Bay with his four-year-old Labradoodle, Rafa.
Several years ago, Simpson and his wife decided it was time that they gave something back to society. They became involved with the Delta Society - a national, not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve the human-animal bond, providing dog therapy to over 550 facilities including aged care facilities, acute care hospitals for children and adults, mental health facilities and prisons.
The Delta Society assesses all potential therapy dogs and their handlers to ensure that they have the right temperament and can handle being in unfamiliar environments where they may be exposed to loud noises, crowds and wheelchairs.
Simpson points out that dealing with patients such as those who are suffering from dementia can be very challenging. “You need to be patient. And sometimes a favourite patient will die. But ultimately it is tremendously rewarding,” he says.
To find out more about the Delta Society, visit www.deltasocietyaustralia.com.au.
By Alison Turner for Exceptional Canine .