Saturday August 11, 2012
Dr Dogs to make house calls
By WANI MUTHIAH
PETALING JAYA: Realising the positive influence dogs have on sick people, a palliative care centre has initiated an animal-assisted therapy programme.
Kasih Hospice Care Society will use abandoned canines which have been trained to become therapy dogs.
Society president Yeo Puay Huei said it decided to work with Furry Friends Farm (FFF) and use dogs trained under its Dr Dog programme as therapy dogs.
“When we decided to start the programme here, we wanted to help abandoned dogs as well by giving them a new lease on life,” said Yeo during the launch of the tie-up at the centre recently.
The Dr Dog programme was started by Hong Kong-based British animal activist Dr Jill Robinson who allowed for it to be made available here under FFF.
Dogs that pass their qualifying examination are accredited and allowed to use the title “Dr” before their names.
Among the dogs that visited the centre was FFF's resident therapy dog Dr Bella who was surrendered to the farm over two years ago.
Yeo, who is Dr Bella's handler, said the therapy dogs would accompany the society's home care team when they visit patients.
“Most of our home care patients have been given between four and six months to live and a lot of people facing the end of their lives need solace,” noted Yeo.
She said there was a lot of medical data showing that animals, especially dogs, have a positive influence and can help those facing death become more communicative.
The service is provided free by both the Dr Dog programme as well as the palliative care centre.
Other accredited therapy dogs at the society's premises in Petaling Jaya include Dr Kylie, which was among the first batch of four dogs trained under the Dr Dog programme here in 2006.
The other three dogs Dr Gideon, Dr Abe and Dr Sugar all died of natural causes.
Meanwhile, Dr Dog Malaysia coordinator Salehin Ibrahim said more people were needed to become therapy dog handlers.
“We have many dogs that can be trained under the programme at FFF but we need people to be trained to handle these dogs,” said Salehin.
Those interested in becoming handlers, can e-mail Salehin at email@example.com.