MR CHEEKY IS A SEVEN-MONTH-OLD BORDER COLLIE/MINIATURE POODLE CROSS WHO IS CURRENTLY IN TRAINING TO BE AN ASSISTANCE DOG TO HELP HIS CLOSEST FRIEND AND BELOVED OWNER, JANE BENNETT.
Gemlife Rainbow Beach contract holder Jane is no stranger to the valuable support work of assistance dogs having spent most of her life as a forensic/clinical social worker, a role that involved using talk therapy to treat people for mental health issues including trauma and grief leading to recovery, often with a therapy dog at her side to help keep her clients calm and feeling safe.
“I’ve worked with assistance dogs for a very long time and only wish there was more awareness of the role they play in society, and the way people could respond appropriately when they come into contact with these beautiful and very special animals,” said Jane.
“It is important to let a working dog concentrate on its job and the commands of its handler, and never feed, pat, approach or distract the dog with food or noises.”
Jane, who was widowed at a young age, is an avid dog lover and has been aware of the benefits of having an assistance dog for many years which is why she decided to start training her latest charge, Mr Cheeky, into the occupation.
She said when assistance dogs are fully trained, they can do everything from taking the washing out of the machine to paying the cashier at shops.
“They also assist with the development and improvement of motor skills, improve self-esteem and confidence, reduce the need for a carer, give greater freedom and independence while also giving love and companionship and making people feel they are never alone,” said Jane.
Jane, a 59-year-old Wurundjeri woman who previously ran the Koori/Indigenous unit, a drug and alcohol therapeutic community at Pentridge Prison in Victoria, recently featured in an ABC Radio documentary on the history of the prison and was also included in a book on the same topic.
Both Jane and Mr Cheeky are looking forward to the completion of her new home at Gemlife Rainbow Beach where an estimated 50 per cent of future homeowners are dog owners keen to enjoy the lifestyle and facilities which will include a generous 165m2 dog park.