Thousands of people of all ages benefit every week from the visits provided by Therapy Dogs, who visit residential homes, hospitals, hospices, schools, day care centres and prisons. Etie and Crusoe are just two of the Portuguese Water dogs that spend some of their time doing this, to bring joy, comfort and companionship to many individuals who appreciate being able to touch and stroke a friendly animal.
For more information contact Pets as Therapy who are one of the charities who arrange this work.
Crusoe is our beloved 7 year old Portie. His greatest love in life is swimming (we live by the sea) but this is closely followed by any activity which uses that wonderful brain of his! Those activities include his therapy work as a Caring Canines.
Caring Canines provides support to those with learning difficulties, mental health problems, to children with low self-esteem who won't read a book to a human but will to an empathetic dog, to depressed or anxious university students and to stroke units and elderly care homes. It's amazing what a difference some of a dog's time and cuddles can make to all these people. Crusoe's particular "gig" is to a care home with both elderly and dementia residents. He seems to spend most of his time with the dementia residents and they absolutely adore him. As soon as he comes in, people appear from all angles! The staff tell me many of them are more settled and cheerful when Crusoe is around and he was the first nomination in for CC's annual "best team" award (though no doubt the others followed quickly!).
We are volunteers and visit together for one or two hours every three weeks. Before being accepted, Crusoe had a half-day temperament assessment where they spent time indoors and outdoors with him and, every now and then, would do sudden things like shout, grab his ear or tail, or anything that may happen to him. He is bomb-proof and will tolerate almost anything! I think PWDs make great therapy dogs due to their kindness, love of cuddles and, above all, instinctive empathy. Just as long as they can be doing something with their humans, they are so happy!