Meet Sandra, Balto’s human
Balto is a rescue husky. A stray at about eight months old, he was almost put to sleep as no one came to claim him.
He was such a gentle pupster when I met him and I immediately knew, like my other husky, Kira, he’d be a natural as a care dog.
For almost nine years now we’ve been visiting together, and many types of establishments have been visited, including psychiatric wards, care homes, schools, and assisted living accommodation. We’ve also sat outside an A&E department to be there for stressed ambulance crews and visited police stations, again for stressed staff and police officers.
Why do we do it?
A smile appearing, where there wasn’t one.
Being the only visitors for a while.
A stroke for Balto from someone who had been fearful of dogs.
All these things make it a pleasure to be part of a care dog team.
Balto and I have been lucky to have spent the last five years splitting our time each year between Cornwall, Derbyshire and East Yorkshire, so have really been able to spread the husky love and help many different people: the elderly, young, bereaved, sick and distressed.
We have both made many friends through our visits. Even a Facebook page, Balto the Pawsome Therapy Husky, started so that those we visited could see what he gets up to when not visiting and give them more to talk about when we do.
When not visiting we are always together. Usually taking part in doggie activities, such as agility, disobedience (ha!), scentwork, rally obedience, man-trailing and trick training (but being a husky, not always successfully).
Most weekends we can be found at fun dog shows, but Balto’s always known for his care work. Care dogs rock!
At about eight months old I was found, a stray, and taken to kennels where, as no one came to claim me, I was about to be PTS (mum says it’s best if I don’t know what that means).
Fortunately SHWA Husky Rescue saved me. Mum was part of the transport team to get me to my foster home and on the journey, I worked my magic and she fell in love with me.
Three weeks later I went to live with her and my new fur-sister, Kira. Kira had been a care dog for many years so it was no surprise to me that I almost immediately started to visit hoomans who needed a little husky love.
I’ve been visiting for nearly nine years now and have lubbed every moment of it.
I started at a care home and a psychiatric hospital where I’ve made some fwiends for life.
Since then, I’ve visited soooo many different establishments: a primary school, residential school, elderly psychiatric wards, sheltered living, care homes, sat outside a hospital for stressed ambulance crews and visited police stations for staff who are stressed or have been involved in traumatic incidents. I’ve also done numerous one-off visits.
But they all have one thing in common… smiles. I lub the smiles that appear as the hoomans spend time with me. Stroking, playing or just talking to me. I sometimes try to make them laugh as I do my tricks.
But it’s not all fun, and there have been sad times too. I’ve lost a few of my fwiends, some far too young, and I have been to some of their funerals. At one in particular I was feeling sad as the funeral cars passed by at the crematorium but then I saw my fwiends parents in one. They saw me and waved, and a smile appeared on each of their faces. That made me very happy. I’d made a little difference to their day.
I’ve lots of ‘tails’ I could tell but it’s not about how many visits or how long they last, it’s all about getting a smile or making someone’s day a little better. That’s why I do it… oh and the treats, did I mention the treats?
Balto the Pawsome Therapy Husky xx
Canine Concern Comments
Sandra and Balto make an amazing team. Sometimes we forget that our dogs have feelings, wants and needs, I think reading what Balto probably felt is very humbling. A dog who had no future but to be euthanized, to suddenly be rescued and with the right training, treatment and patience of course, has become an amazing dog doing great things. Being a rescue dog has not stopped Balto from becoming a Canine Concern care dog, and as long as the dog enjoys the work and is able to cope with the demands, our assessors will agree to them joining us. And just look at the benefits he has given back to the community. Well done Balto and Sharon!