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Frank

Frank and Gracie

Type of dog:

Tibetian Mastiff

Location:

VIC

Visits:

Ballarat Health Services - Wellness Centre

Volunteering:

January 2004

Sponsored by:

Debbie Jesser Fund

Gracie, my Tibetan mastiff and I have been visiting at the Ballarat Integrated Cancer Centre, (BRICC) for 12 months now, and every visit brings with it a roller coaster of emotions. We spend 2 hours each Wednesday morning there, Gracie and I have many regulars who greet us with warmth and friendship, and a few newbie’s who I’m sure are wondering “what on earth that giant furry dog is doing here”. 

Gracie is every inch, and kilo, a lady, and on entering the waiting room, she seems to look around and ponder whose feet to lay on first.  The smiles that greet us, or should I say greet her, makes my question “who likes dogs” obsolete.  When she finally settles, literally, on a suitable person to visit, she usually turns to face the door and then lies down. Even people who are not sure about dogs are entranced by her calming presence.

After about half an hour and having visited everyone who wants visiting we go to the chemo treatment room. When we first started visiting it would come as a shock to see “a dog” in the treatment room, now the staff and patients seem to take it for granted. So one by one we visit with the patients, after, of course first being greeted by the staff, who always take time out to” talk to” and pat Gracie.  George (name changed) was the first person we met on our first visit, was once interviewed by the local television station, and said “When I first saw Gracie it gave me a lift, it’s a different sort of treatment that makes you think of everything else but your sickness” George lost his battle not long ago and a friend of his said she saw him a few days before the end and he was telling her all about Gracie and the first time he saw her.

On many occasions the staff have asked me, to be sure to visit a certain person as it’s their first time, and that says a lot to me and certainly makes the visits worth while. Everything at the centre is geared towards positivity, massages, yoga, music therapy, wigs and makeup, and now of course the dogs. Gracie and I are so proud to be part of this wellness programme and grateful to the Debbie Jesser Fund for supporting us.


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