I was a police officer for 23 years. I left in 2019 and was at a loss of which direction I needed to take. I decided I would love to volunteer locally for Canine Concern and Chase passed his assessment with flying colours.
I got Chase as a puppy in 2016 and he helped me cope with times of severe anxiety and depression and I knew he was special straight away. He is such a kind and calm dog, as many golden retrievers are. He is very in tune with human emotion and expression and likes to offer himself for a cuddle at just the right time.
We threw ourselves into visiting several premises: a local care home; Rossendale Hospice; a primary school, and the SEN department at our local secondary school. We did a lot in a short space of time, with visits every week or fortnight.
Chase loved it and so did I. It was just the focus I needed whilst I retrained myself as a complementary therapist.
Chase had his favourites: a 100-year-old lady at the care home who came to life when he was there; a boy at primary school who was struggling with problems out of school who loved to talk and read to him; and the nurses at Rossendale Hospice who made such a fuss of him.
I think he really loved the celebrity life of being a care dog!
Then suddenly life changed. As we went into lockdown all of his visits stopped. He didn’t understand why he could not approach people on the street anymore. They crossed the road to socially distance from us and I know it confused Chase as it probably did many care dogs.
We stayed in touch with our visiting premises and took a photo album full of pictures of Chase with the residents into the care home for them to look at. As restrictions eased in July, we did some window visits to the care home. Waving and smiling and wagging through the window was heart-breaking but worthwhile.
We also managed a couple of outdoor visits to the primary school in the playground which the children loved.
On Chase’s fifth birthday this year he did a birthday ‘sausage hunt’ around our living room and raised £200 for Canine Concern. Chase loved this idea, and we ran it on a live Facebook video. It was such a fun thing to do.
Chase was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when he was only six months old. This was devastating news to me for so many reasons. I spotted the condition early on and so we were able to begin hydrotherapy and k laser treatments immediately. But during lockdown he was not able to continue with his therapies and his mobility suffered. It was hard to see him struggle, especially in the winter.
He has never really recovered from this and although we manage his condition the best we can, I took the difficult decision to retire him from visits.
He touched so many people in a short space of time and when I announced his retirement, I received amazing messages from people who told me how much their children would miss Chase and how much he had helped them.
I am so proud of what Chase did when he was a care dog. It was an honour and a privilege to work with him. I am lucky that I still get the benefit of his beautiful energy and we can share all the love he deserves.
We will always be supporters of Canine Concern and hope that in the future we can do some more care work with another dog, but for now I am going to appreciate every second with Chase and continue to manage his condition to keep him happy and mobile for as long as possible.
Canine Concern Comments
Caroline and Chase have been amazing members of Canine Concern. The pandemic has affected so many people and pets, but Caroline kept in contact with people the best she could. It is sometimes hard not being able to let people touch, but sometimes just a distraction of a happy retriever and owner helps.
It is very hard to decide to retire our dogs through health, especially at such a young age, but we as responsible owners have to think about our dog’s welfare. Not only can it add to their stress having to move around when they want to rest, but the added pain could make even a docile dog unpredictable.