I first saw Therapy Huskies on Facebook soon after my Dad died. I wished I had been able to do something like that for him, he was very frightened and unable to communicate his needs. Mind you he was hallucinating at times too so not sure what he would have made of a big woolly dog. When his hallucinations involved cats he was fine, we had always had cats, but many of the visions were frightening. I am sure if the dog had sat next to him he would have stroked it and spoken to it. It was so sad for all of us to see him reduced to that state by deafness and Parkinson’s disease and I would have loved to have been able to do something special for him, but he was taken from us very suddenly and unexpectedly. Sadly he was alone as we were not expecting it although he was in a nursing home, my Mum had left him expecting to see him the next day. The next thing we knew was an early morning phone call to say he had passed away in his sleep.
I have always had an interest in Pet Therapy, but these dogs take it to a different level, working with people with Dementia, physical and learning disabilities and terminally ill. I could never justify a visit for myself, but when a friend, who loves dogs, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and wanted to raise money for BTRS, I thought it would be great to combine the two. We booked the local church building and the dogs and set about planning the event. This was back in June.
Fast forward to Saturday 5th October and the day arrived and so did 4 huge Siberian Huskies.
Stormy is 9 years old and the Mum of the other dogs aged 4, they are owned and trained by Adrian Ashworth and his wife Claire.
“The aim of the Therapy Huskies is to bring the love affection and attention of a furry friend back with the elderly, not just dementia specifically but they cause conversation, memory recall of a childhood pet and above all they feel the love from one of my dogs.The dogs are specifically trained to help with End of Life, Autism, Dementia, Mental Illness, Bereavement and so so much more.” Therapy Huskies
” Adrian Ashworth set up the organisation Therapy Huskies after noticing his pet Thunder had been behaving differently around his dad Alan around the time he was diagnosed with dementia. “
“He said the behaviour was so unique and noticeable that he wanted to see what else he could do with his dogs.”
Adrian and Claire post daily updates and adorable pictures on Facebook and Instagram, not just about their work, but an insight into their daily lives living with and training the dogs. Adrian also works as a photographer and gets some amazing pictures of the dogs.
The dogs were so well behaved. Thunder is a true star and it was great to see him with children who were scared of dogs and a child with autism and to get an idea of how special his work is. I said to my husband if I am dying you have got to get me that dog! The boy with Autism’s mum said “because Thunder is of a very calm nature, he just laid down next to E and let him take his time to get closer to stroke him.” They are considering booking some sessions to help the boy with communication.
My daughter is very wary of dogs (and rightly so), but straight away she took to these dogs and was at ease with them, we were able to sit on the floor and stroke the dogs. Another little girl who is only 4 and I have only known a week came and held my hand and sat with the dog too.
As a person who struggles with communication due to hearing loss, concentration issues and anxiety I love animals they put no demands on you, they don’t talk to you and ask questions, they seem to understand what you want of them and can make their own needs known. If you do talk to them they will sit and listen and not judge you or mind if what you are saying is a load of rubbish. I talk to my cat more than many people. People tend to think I am rude or stupid, if animals do they don’t tell me so and still show me affection.
I love the company of my cat in the long days spent on my own at home, often able to do very little. It did get quite stressful with our old cat Timmy, but I always knew he was around somewhere and he kept me company for 19 years, all I needed to do was feed him and let him out. My new kitten is a delight, she keeps me entertained and then snuggles up with me when I need to rest. She is currently stealing tissues out of the tissue box and running off with them.
We asked a friend Lee, who runs his own photography business and loves animals, to be our photographer for the event. He also has multiple health issues and we were pleased he was able to join us. We asked for donations to have a picture taken with the dogs and that was donated to BTRS. We got some great picture, Lee as a true professional was not happy with them, but to the untrained eye they look great and I am sure people will treasure them.
Adrian and Thunder have been nominated for Proud of Barnsley award for their special work. There is an award ceremony next month, I do hope they win. They have been in the news recently for work with a young man with complex medical needs, you can read about it here Thunder and Ben.
I have total admiration for Adrian and Claire and the work that they do and the dedication to the dogs. Amazed that they both have other jobs too. I can’t begin to imagine how much it must cost to have the dogs and train them, just the food bill alone must be huge. The dogs keep Adrian and Claire so busy they have little time for fundraising of their own, which they need to keep the service going and to be able to visit all those in need, not just those able to pay for it. I am eagerly awaiting their Christmas cards
I hope that we may be able to do other visits, if we can get small groups of people to share the cost then more visits could be viable.
I have great respect for animals and think animal therapy is amazing and hope that more people will begin to understand the benefits. I am hoping that my new kitten maybe able to visit local nursing homes when she is a bit older. She is very affectionate and loves curling up on someone’s knee.
Having worked in health care settings and Nursing Homes when I was well enough to work, I know the distress caused to people who have to leave pets. Timmy had belonged to an older person who couldn’t keep him, we got him at 9 months old. Many of the older pets at rehoming centres have had owners who are unable to look after them. For the owners its like losing a family member, which along with failing health and moving into a care home or hospital care is very traumatic.
Last month we met with Pixie who is a registered emotional support animal and Street Cat Bob who turned up on James’s doorstep and wouldn’t leave. He helped James to come off drugs and settle down in life. They have a books of their story and a film too! I wonder if I can write a book about Oreo and her adventures!! My friends on facebook are already overwhelmed by my cat related posts. My idea of a trip out is to Kitty cafe. We even went the day after Timmy passed away and I burst into tears, but still loved it.
Finally I must make a special mention to Tracey, today she is having her final operation in the series of operations she has had this year to remove her tumour and rebuild her skull. It’s been a long journey and she has had many setbacks, but she has stayed strong and positive throughout. Hoping today puts her on the final leg of her recovery.
The event raised nearly £400 pounds for BTRS and I hope it raised some awareness for them and for Therapy Huskies and the great work both organisations do.