• From Therapy Dog to Resthaven Volunteer

    From Therapy Dog to Resthaven Volunteer

    Retired scientist, Diana Walter, first came across Resthaven Mitcham in September 2021, when visiting a dear friend and resident on-site.

    ‘Hannah Coelho [Manager Residential Services] noticed I had brought in my gentle Labrador, Quaid, and asked if we would like to become Resthaven volunteers – the rest is history!’

    Diana explains that 12-year-old Quaid ‘came to us as a puppy to be trained as a guide dog for the Royal Society for the Blind, but he failed his hip x-ray at 12 months.’

    ‘As we had looked after him, we had first option to buy him, so, here he is today – a much-loved and gentle companion – perfect for aged care!’

    Having previously spent time as a therapy dog in healthcare environments, Quaid is now the star of Resthaven Mitcham, with Diana saying, ‘Once when I was signing in at reception, I heard someone behind me saying, “Well, hello gorgeous!” I knew they weren’t talking to me! He gets all the compliments.’

    ‘My favourite thing is seeing the faces of residents light up when Quaid comes to visit.’

    While Quaid works his magic around site, Diana shares her knowledge of science; ‘While visiting, I often share with residents some fun facts in science. This includes how to tell a hard-boiled egg from a raw one without breaking it open, or how to navigate by the stars.’

    ‘Science stays with you forever, and I like sharing it.’

    For his part, this is what Quaid has to say about being a Resthaven volunteer dog (‘translated’ by Diana!):

    Hi everyone,

    I have been busy lately, talking to residents at [Resthaven] Mitcham, or rather, listening to their dog stories that they love to tell me. I have heard about farm dogs rounding up sheep, and family dogs doing doggy things. This brings back memories for our humans, and they smile as they tell me.

    They love to see me catching my dog biscuits in the air and playing with a big yellow ball in the Camelia section. I like to run off with it, and not give it back, which they reckon is not following the rules. I also sometimes hold up my paw when I meet someone new, so we can shake hands.

    From the beginning of January to the end of April this year, I have had 118 visits, which Diana has counted on something called a spreadsheet. Often, we visit the same people again, but we are meeting new residents every week.  We also go upstairs now, and everyone wants me to come back and visit again.  When I come home, I feel like a film star.

    One lady loves to take me for a walk around the courtyards. As soon as we walk in on Tuesdays, she is ready to take me out. I love watching the tea-trolley with its cakes, but I’m not allowed to have any. Alby, the white cat, and I are friends. We say hello when we meet, and I sometimes give him a smooch. Alby has everyone trained to let him in and out the doors that don’t have a cat-flap. I reckon he has a good life, but I’m not allowed to eat his cat food!

    Before we go on our visits, I have a brush-up, as I am very furry, and I am getting my winter coat. I also have to wear my special volunteer badge. I hope the residents get as much pleasure as I do, when I visit.

    We are sure that they do, Quaid!

    Thank you, Diana and Quaid, for bringing joy to all at Resthaven Mitcham on your visits each Tuesday.