Charlotte's Web... of training

Nurse Marianne’s Golden Retriever Charlotte is seven weeks away from being assessed by the Delta Society to test her suitability as a therapy dog. Charlotte comes in to the clinic a few times a week to facilitate her exposure to new and strange environments and improve her confidence levels. In addition to this, Marianne (and her awesome housemate, Jacqui) has been busy taking Charlotte to markets, festivals, dog groups and other public events to challenge her with crowds, noise, other animals and unusual surroundings.

To assist with Charlotte’s desensitisation to environmental stimuli, Marianne is trailing the Adaptil dog collar with Charlotte. She hopes this will assist in reducing Charlotte’s separation anxiety and mediate a sense of calmness.

Therapy dogs are an important source of relief in nursing homes situations and have a high therapeutic value in these settings. Studies show that therapy dogs significantly help to reduce blood pressure and alleviate feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Marianne loves working with old people and has wanted to get involved with therapy work for several years, but her previous German Shepherd never really grew up and behaved like a puppy until her final days, so she was not a suitable candidate for therapy work.

Marianne is inspired by humanitarian Mother Theresa who remarked “the greatest disease/poverty in the West today is not tuberculosis or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for, [leading to feelings of] loneliness and hopelessness."  Fingers crossed Charlotte passes her rigorous exams and can visit some nursing homes to bring some puppy love and joy to residents, and brighten their day.

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