It’d be ruff without you!

Archie Stevenson lives with his wife Susan in Warrnambool. Susan is Archie’s carer as he has Parkinson’s disease and is also visually impaired. Archie is also supported by his guide dog Leo.

Susan attended her Warrnambool carer’s group where conversations were being had about potential places for respite and Timboon and District Healthcare Service (TDHS) was highly recommended. Contact was made with TDHS with a request for both Archie and Leo to stay providing not only Archie with the security and comfort of having his best friend around, but also giving Susan the opportunity to go away.

TDHS was very happy to accommodate this request as we understand the importance of consumer centred care. In Archie’s words: “It is compulsory to have Leo with me”.

When people book in for respite at TDHS, we request the consumer and/or their carer to provide detailed and documented information, so we know how to care for the individual in the same way as they are cared for at home. This is for the consumer’s as well the carer’s peace of mind. In this case, we also requested a detailed plan for guide dog Leo, which included his selection of toys, including his favourite toy Tiger.

As this was a first for TDHS, it highlighted to the staff the care that guide dogs provide to their owners and the important work they do. While Leo enjoyed the extra pats and fuss made of him while off-duty, he never forgot to keep a close eye on his owner Archie.

September is Therapy Dog Awareness Month – a chance to recognise these wonderful animals and the support they provide to individuals living with disability. Not just cute and cuddly, therapy and assistance dogs play a vital role in providing comfort, companionship and emotional support.

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