Billy came to live with Carol when her first dog, Benji passed away. Benji bonded very well with Carol’s mother who lived in an aged care facility and soon enough Carol saw similar characteristics in Billy who was very good with interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. Once Billy, aged two and half, was assessed by Delta, they became a Delta Therapy Dog team together and have been visiting a local mental health day centre as part of their Delta duties. They also attend several Paws the Pressure events, including R U OK? Day.
Billy has been able to adapt very well to his role as a Delta Therapy Dog. What has surprised Carol about their experience so far is how Billy’s adaptable behaviour around different people helps to put those who may not be as fond of dogs at ease. “Not all people like dogs, for many reasons, but he was accepted by the majority of them. It has taught me that dogs do not discriminate. They can be comfortable with people if they reciprocate their feelings.”
When on a Delta duty, Billy and Carol come across people from all walks of life who have dealt with a number of life’s hurdles. Carol recalls one of the members who had been undergoing extensive treatment and on this particular visit, she had recently lost her pet dog. “Billy must have sensed her issues and sat with her for the entire visit. He seemed to give her the pleasure that her own dog could no longer give her.” The gift of our loyal canine companions is that they seemingly understand the power of being present and in the moment.
While Covid-19 saw their Delta Therapy Dog visit suspended, Carol and Billy have recently been able to renew their volunteer work by engaging in the online therapy dog visits. offered by Delta Together they meet with patients at a rehabilitation centre, a primary school, as well as participating in a University mental health workshop. While working across a number of devices and finding a flow of communication has been a challenge at first, Carol has used her experience of participating in other community online activities to help her and Billy in their role as a Delta Therapy Dog team. She has found that this new way of interacting allows for the conversation and connection to continue in different ways. “The people we have connected with seemed to have been enjoyed the interactions. The school students really want to pat Billy so I have sent photos and am expecting a drawing from on student next week. We talk about their week, what they like to do, their families, their pets, things they like to do and also what Billy has been doing since we last saw them.”