Member of the month – January 2021

Name: Davida
Area: Sussex & London
Dog: Diesel, aged nearly 4 years old.

I first became aware of Canine Concern when Sally, (another member with her two labradors, Dylan and Hardy) visited a nursing home that I worked at. I had just started training a new labrador puppy who loved attention and cuddles.

Diesel had previously met lots of different people in various situations and quickly took to meeting and greeting. He was assessed by Canine Concern when he was 2 years old and started visits to the nursing home. We continued with visits to several local nursing homes and came across many residents who had previously had dogs who clearly enjoyed having him around. Our visits also encouraged another resident with their hobby of photography.

The area coordinator then received an enquiry from a school only a few hundred feet away from my house, as they were looking for a dog to visit the Special Educational Needs class. I knew that Diesel was good with children as he had spent lots of time with my young niece, Jazmin.

The first school visit felt strange as it was the school I attended as a child, and some of my teachers were still there!

The children and staff quickly took to Diesel and he loved the fuss and attention. Working with the staff we were able to help some of the children overcome their fear of dogs and gain experience in pet care, which was extremely rewarding for me. The presence of care dogs helps the children focus and helps to maintain a calm environment for them and the teachers.

Although now fairly busy with nursing home and school visits, an opportunity came up to support a staff wellbeing event at the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust control room, following the London Bridge attack last year.

We attended and set up amongst the other attractions of head massage, reiki, and yoga. The dogs were a big hit and were invited back for more events. Over the next few months, Diesel visited the control rooms and ambulance stations all over London.

We supported new staff on the day of their final exams, took part in wellbeing roadshows and provided much needed relief and comfort for frontline and support staff.

With a visit to the estates’ department, Diesel now has his own ID card complete with picture.

With gentle introduction Diesel is not fazed by the uniforms, protective equipment or any of the various noises and distractions of the ambulance station (although he will indicate which bag people have put their lunch in).
The picture below shows Diesel with his favorite crew, bringing comfort and affection during these difficult times. Tara and Louise are from the Tactical Response Unit for major incidents, based at Cody Road, East London.

Diesel is always excited when his Canine Concern bandana and lead come out of the bag as he cannot wait to meet people. With the COVID-19 lock down and restrictions our visits have been much reduced, but we are still visiting when we can.

I am keen to keep both Diesel and my brain and body active, and so we have completed UK scent work level 1 & 2 training and try to attend outdoor agility training once a week.

Canine Concern Comments

As you can see Diesel is bringing so much comfort to people working under great stress in these difficult times. Our thanks to Davida for all the time she and her dog Diesel put into this support.

Davida & Diesel are a typical example of how our volunteers support our charity and those who seek some solace from their daily life, especially those who are on the front line in the NHS, such as Tara and Louise at Cody Road, London, pictured with Diesel.

Davida – we thank you for all the support you give, and to those who are on the front line, our thanks and extreme gratitude, to you all.