Time to talk Turkey

Posted in Blog

Time to talk Turkey

 

   Turkey is truly wonderful. I’m eternally grateful I found a dog who is having such a positive impact not just on my life, but the lives of others too.   

 

In her second blog, Carrie reveals what happened when newly trained Turkey turned up for his first official job as a Canine Concern therapy dog at a nursing home for elderly and disabled people.

Carrie, 22, rescued Turkey, 3, from a dog shelter just 8 months after a motorbike accident that left her  with  severe spinal injuries  and her twin sister concussed.

Now, with support from Krysalis, she  and Turkey  are on a joint mission to achieve fresh goals for a new future.

Here, Carrie reveals how they got on putting therapy dog training into practice for the very first time:

 

First day at work

It had been three months since Turkey passed his pet therapy assessment with Canine Concern.

We’d been on an intensive training programme to ensure both he and I were up to the job.

And then, on 10 December 2019, we set out for the first time as an official Canine Concern Therapy Dog Team.

Appropriately, for the time of year, Turkey dressed in a Santa suit and hat!

The visit was to a local nursing home for elderly and disabled people, and we were joined by my Krysalis Neuro OT, who was supporting me with my pet therapy goals.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the home’s Activities Coordinator and shown to a seated area to fill out relevant paperwork and answer any questions.

I noted Turkey making himself comfortable and greeting everyone with the waggiest of tails.

The staff instantly fell in love with him!

Then it was time to meet the first resident, who I will refer to as John. I wasn’t at all sure, at first, how to introduce myself.

But I was also aware John had some issues communicating, so I just started talking, as I would with anyone else, and I soon felt comfortable.

Turkey, in the meantime, was in his element as it quickly emerged that John loved dogs – and Turkey’s Santa suit!

 

   John began talking about the three German Shepherd dogs he had owned. He showed us a lovely picture of them as puppies.   

 

As we talked, Turkey was gently sniffing Johns hand and nudging it with his head, all the while wagging his tail so happily.

I asked John if he’d like to feed Turkey a treat, to which he happily obliged.

Turkey took it from him, really gently, and then laid down contentedly, next to John’s bed, as John and I chatted some more.

 

   Turkey was amazing. He just seemed to know that he was needed at that moment.   

 

This was Turkeys first time visiting vulnerable people. He had never experienced a care home environment before.

He just seemed to sense that the residents needed his affection, and he was so happy to give this by the bucket load! 

I believe he knew why he was there and that he was doing a very important job. 

He was not phased at all by any of the equipment in the residents rooms.

At one point, he even sat on a residents feet - something he never does unless he trusts a person 100%.

For him to do this in a completely new environment and with someone he’d never met before, was breath-taking.

 

   The beaming smiles on the faces of those he visited were priceless.   

 

In a way, I feel I can empathise with some of the residents as, once, I was in a position where I had to lie in bed, staring at the same four walls, doing nothing all day.

It made seeing the residents’ smiles so much more rewarding as I can understand on a personal level the value that animal-assisted therapy holds.

During the months I was in the hospital after my accident, I had the privilege of being visited by a lovely greyhound called Sam and his owner.

I remember it made my day one hundred times better.

 

   It did not matter what else I faced after that. I would think of how it felt to stroke that beautiful dog and I’d immediately feel better.   

 

So, my plan now is to make many more trips to the care home with Turkey and continue to volunteer with Canine Concern.

Turkey is truly wonderful. I’m eternally grateful I found a dog who is having such a positive impact not just on my life, but the lives of others too.

 

*Turkey was rescued by https://www.margaretgreenanimalrescue.org.uk/ and trained as a therapy dog to assist vulnerable and elderly people by https://canineconcern.co.uk/

Further reading:

It was love at first sight, despite his shocking physical condition. Read the first part of how Carrie met Turkey here.

In this #TalkingHeads article, meet Rebecca - a brain injury survivor with both equine and canine therapy goals here.

We look at the expanding field of animal-assisted therapies and the science behind them here.

A case study looking at the impact of Hippotherapy (equine therapy) on occupational performance following brain injury is available here.

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