“Everybody loves Bob– he is the star of the show. I am just the chauffeur!”
Name: Robert & Bob
Type of dog: Kelpie – Bob he came to us after spending time behind bars (Lucindale Council pound). He has made efforts to change his life (including Cert Dog Obedience Grade 5) and is now actively repaying his debt to society. (Delta Pet Partners 2005 – present)
Location: South Australia
Visits: Visiting Daw House (a Palliative & Respite care facility) and recently we started visiting the Mental Health Ward at the Royal Adelaide Hospital as well. We also make occasional visits to a client with Spin bifida, who is wheelchair bound and lives on his own, so when he gets lonely he drops us a line and we go to visit him.
Bob is fortunate as he has 2 handlers, my partner Helen is also accredited with Bob. This means that even when I can’t make it, Bob still does.
Volunteering: 4 years
Why: I have always been involved in some form of volunteer work, St John Ambulance, Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network, Driving and Mechanical support for Bicycle SA, Cycle mechanic for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundations annual bike ride, etc. Back in 2005 I saw an Advertisement that Delta had put in the paper and decided that both Bob & I would fit the bill. Bob enjoys the attention and I enjoy being able to help people.
Enjoys most: I am very proud of Bob, but I also enjoy being able to help people. It’s nice to feel you’re doing your bit to make the world that little bit better for someone else.
Dog enjoys: Bob loves attention, but the treats would have to be a close second…!!! He is very partial to the odd ”snooze” on hospital bed too.
Reaction: Everybody loves Bob – he is the star of the show. I am just the chauffer..!! Patients that are just lying there with glazed eyes will often spark up and “come to life”, often people want to go to sleep with Bob up on their bed. Just to see the change in their face when they see Bob is a wonderful thing.
Experiences: There are many stories of patients we have visited. Most of them are sad – or perhaps happy as it means their pain is over, perhaps that is a the best way to look at visiting a palliative care facility.
One day we stopped at the door of a room to ask if they wanted a visit, the elderly gentleman said “No thanks –she doesn’t like dogs” but a wavering voice from the bed said “bring him in”. So we came in and I pulled a chair over beside the bed for Bob to sit on. Even with the chair the very frail little lady in the bed couldn’t hold her arm up to pat Bob for more than a few strokes. So I asked would she like Bob on the bed, her husband again replied “No she doesn’t like dogs”, and again she contradicted him and asked to have Bob on the bed..!!
We stayed with them for almost an hour, Bob cuddled up to her with his head on her lap and she stroked him until they both went to sleep. When we eventually left the husband followed us out of the room and told me that “She wouldn’t even let me have my dogs in the house”.
Another elderly country couple were talking to the chaplain when we arrived at the door, she physically pushed the chaplain aside and told him “you will have to wait, there is a dog here”…!!
The elderly man wanted Bob up on the bed, and lay there just stroking his head. Looking into his face you could see his eyes were focused on something or somewhere in the past and he was miles away from the hospital bed. Again we stayed until he went to sleep. When we left his wife followed us out of the room and kept offering us money as she said it was the most relaxed she had seen him for months. He passed away the next day.
One last story – and my favourite…
A couple of years back, in the course of our visiting, we got to know an elderly couple, Doug & Audrey. Audrey was in Daw House for a month or so before she passed away. She was very fond of Bob and always made a big fuss of him. Her funeral was being held just up the road at Centennial Park, so I decided that Bob & I would drop in and pay our last respects. Outside the chapel we recognised many of the people who had visited Audrey at Daw Park, and of course they all knew Bob. Not knowing how we would be received in the actual chapel I waited until almost everyone had entered before approaching the door with Bob (if there was a problem I didn’t want a big fuss in front of everyone) Sure enough, when we got to the door we were greeted by 2 staff members …but instead of being politely refused entry….we were ushered to seats in the row immediately behind the family..!! There were 2 rows of empty pews between us and the rest of the congregation. This meant that when we approached the coffin to pay our last respects – we were right behind the family and being watched by everyone. But it was not a problem – Bob behaved perfectly, even going as far as bowing his head to the coffin before straightening up to walk off. Many people have asked me how I trained him for that, the truth is he just did it himself. Of course when it came to tea & coffee afterwards Bob got many more biscuits than he should have had ..!!
We have kept in touch with the family, and Doug, Audrey’s husband was recently admitted to a dementia ward, Bob & I make occasional (non Delta) visits to see him.
Read Australia Post article – Rob & Bob Champion Partners
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