Thursday, 14 December 2017

Edition 31 – August September October

Life

Quentin – Our Very Special Therapy Dog

By Sally Dusting-Laird

Quentin is a labradoodle, and came to our home last October after living in a very expensive inner city apartment with all the high quality toys he could want, but unfortunately just a balcony as his
toilet. But money isn’t everything!

As you can imagine he didn’t really like the outside loo and would rather use the lounge room or in fact any other room as a toilet to let his previous owners know he wasn’t really happy.

But then the balcony was taken away and he had to let the owner know he needed to go outside. First he was taken down an elevator then across a very busy city road and finally to the park to do his business. Well hold that thought... literally.

They tried to change his toilet habits but 14 month old Quentin was too smart and eventually got the better of them.

He came to our home for the weekend with my dog behaviour specialist trainer and husband Wesley to possibly on-sell but well we just fell in love with this goofy, funny, happy boy.

We have a big backyard at the Foothills of the Dandenong’s in Ferntree Gully and the first time we let him outside to look at his new home he just stood there for minutes admiring the view, like he couldn’t believe it.

Our blonde curly headed boy actually had a park in his backyard, gumtrees and all.

Quentin then leapt off the steps and went running around wildly with the biggest smile on his face. Yes dogs do smile.

When the family gets home we all get a big hug and a sloppy kiss including his two siblings an Aussie Sherpherd, Kenai, age 11 and a Chihuahua-poodle cross, Kahlua, age 6.

Guess what, he has never toileted in our house once!

He loves a session in front of the TV as well. His favourite shows are Animal Planet and National Geographic especially those bears!

My husband quickly came to realise that Quentin had an exceptionally warm and loving temperament and would be perfect to train as a service dog. He still has his L-plates but knows when he is wearing his service dog vest that he is working and puts his head down and takes his job seriously.

When the vest comes off don’t worry he’s back to his old loving self. He goes to shopping centres, doctors’ appointments, hotels, schools and could even travel with us if we wanted him to.

Therapy dogs are specialised service dogs that are trained to provide comfort and affection to people in retirement homes, nursing homes, hospices, schools, hospitals and disaster areas, and to people with autism. Therapy Dogs work in animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy, typically alongside their owner/handlers.

Therapy dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds and they differ from service dogs in many regards.

Practically any dog, regardless of breed, may be eligible for therapy dog certification, provided that it can pass the required training and temperament testing.

My husband had already worked with a now famous therapy dog called Ralf and his specialised training is featured in the top selling Australian novel Ralf, The Hospital Therapy Dog by Anne Crawford. Wesley trained Ralf who has helped change the lives of hundreds of sick children at the Royal Children’s Hospital simply by walking with them or sitting with them for a cuddle.

Therapy Dogs must:
Be even-tempered
Well-socialized
Enjoy human touch
Comfortable in busy or stressful settings
Not shed excessively
Love to cheer others up!

A therapy dog’s primary duty is to make affectionate contact with unfamiliar people in sometimes-stressful environments, and apart from the animal’s training, the most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament.

Therapy dogs must have a calm and stable temperament and must be able to tolerate children, other animals, crowded public places and other situations which may be stressful, without becoming distressed or dangerous.

A good therapy dog must be friendly, confident, and gentle in all situations and must be comfortable and contented with being petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

Additionally, the dog must possess the ability to be lifted or assisted onto an individual’s lap or bed, and must also be able to sit or lie comfortably there.

So what is special about your pet? Write in and tell us here at The Foothills and you’ll be in the running to win a Pancake Parlour voucher!

About The Foothills

The Foothills magazine is truly appreciated by the local community. It covers business, community and tourisms news, events, local success stories and more. The site features electronic newsletters, feature stories, recipes, photographs and news, all from the Upper Ferntree Gully, Upwey and Tecoma communities.

From the Editor

Welcome to the first of the digital editions of The Foothills community news. Thanks to our wonderful team of volunteers that has put this edition together. Many are long term volunteers who you will have followed over several years and others are new writers inspired by the opportunities of the new digital edition.

We are keen to grow the Foothills with your contributions. If you have a club, a school or an interest that you’d like to tell us about each quarter then please contact me so we can arrange for your own column. We also welcome photos and quick news stories that we can use to update the Foothills between editions. Send those contributions and messages to thefoothills@coonarahouse.org.au.

Thanks and happy reading.

Regards

The Foothills Editor