This special blog is released now during the season of giving and care. We would like to share the story of how we met Peppi, the care dog.
There is a common understanding in Finland that small talk with strangers in public is usually rare, unless the stranger is walking their dog.
One day in the Helsinki metro, our children were drawn to a friendly dog sitting close to its owner. They asked if they could pet the dog, and the owner warmly said yes. We would soon find out that the owner’s name was Tamara. Tamara and her dog, Peppi, were on their way to the children festival where Peppi would act as a ‘caredog’ by interacting with the children.
Tamara said that Peppi is very good at her role:
“She is present and lets the children pet her.”
Two years ago, Tamara’s mother started to show signs of Alzheimer disease, and Tamara and her sister decided to place her, temporarily, in an elderly residence. Tamara’s mother was close to her own dog.
“It was interesting how my mother could take care of the dog, but not her house or herself.”
Tamara decided to bring her mother’s dog to the elderly care facility, and she realized the positive impact that the dog had on her mother’s well-being but also the other residents. After seeing the joy that the dog brought, she decided to enroll her dog, Peppi, into Care Dogs which trains dogs to interact with children and elderly people. The training is for calm, older dogs.
Peppi now visits elderly care centres in Eastern Helsinki twice a month.
“It should be about the dog, but, mostly, the residents just want a chance to interact and have someone listen to their own stories.”
In regards to Peppi, her reactions are mixed; sometimes she is very enthusiastic, whereas other times she is relaxed. But, one thing is certain, Peppi is the bridge between Tamara and the elderly residents.
“One resident is sometimes laying and sometimes in a wheel chair. He does not talk but he always wants to pet Peppi.”
Peppi´s presence benefits many of the residents, including those who can no longer communicate well or have short memory. Peppi represents a caring presence that connects people together, and her touch and energy lingers well after she is gone.
An ideal care dog should be at least 2 years old, friendly, calm and easily approachable. The dog must also enjoy been pet and be in contact with people. The dog should not be aggressive towards other dogs.
If you live in Finland and want to know more about this initiative, or maybe find out if your dog is suitable for care dog work, please visit the link bellow:
This story was empowered by Metaphora. We can also help you to craft your story.
“Our mission is to give voice to the stories that honour people’s authenticity.”
Equality consultant and co-founder of Metaphora
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