“I enjoy watching Windsor “work”. It is always amazing to see that dogs have a real sense of sympathy to sick people.”

 Windsor and a Starlight Play Machine

Name: Tracey Garvey and “Windsor” the 8 year old Clumber Spaniel.

Type of dog: Clumber Spaniel

Location: New South Wales

Visits: Children’s hospital

Volunteering: 4 years

Why: In 2004, my stepmother was a patient in a hospice. I saw firsthand the magnificent work of the therapy dogs. I did not know that dogs were involved in hospitals even though I come from a paramedical background and have spent 30 years working in the hospital environment as a Clinical Biochemist. I had a special tempered dog so I thought this could be one way to “give back” for the caring, support, compassion and joy the dogs brought to my step mum and all the other patients during their weekly visits. I was thrilled when we were told that Windsor had that affectionate temperament necessary to work with children.

Enjoys most: I enjoy watching Windsor “work”. It is always amazing to see that dogs have a real sense of sympathy to sick people, especially children. I love seeing the expressions of joy on everyone when they first catch sight of Windsor. I think he makes everyone forget their own troubles for a brief time. He makes them laugh and smile and remember the dogs they have at home or those they used to have. While the children love to pat him, climb on him or play ball, the parents and staff ask questions about his breed and the role of The Delta Society in Pet Partner programs. I get masses of positive feedback. Staff and long-term patients really look forward to “Doggy Day” as the highlight of their week.

Dog enjoys:  Windsor knows its “work” time when I put on his special collar and bandana. He “leads me” to our meeting area and is so happy to see his other team members, both 2 and 4 legged. He then receives yummy liver treats from the hospitals front desk staff. This provides positive re-enforcement for a good start to rounds.

Windsor definitely revels in all the attention, pats and true affection given. He also loves to show off his tricks, especially “speaking” on command, which he has learned to do quietly so as not to scare the children. His favourite part of rounds is the ball games he gets to play with the children.

Reaction: Their first reaction is usually one of amazement that a dog is allowed in a hospital. Most reactions are very positive. You get to learn very quickly when to “back off” if people are unsure. Most want to know what breed he is and what are its origins because a Clumber spaniel is a very rare dog in Australia. This is a good thing because these questions (mainly from the parents and staff) put the children at ease as they see adults around them reacting positively to the dogs.

Experiences: Windsor is a round ball obsessed dog. He is besotted with his tennis ball and revels in fetching it. Windsor has discovered that the children who walk around the Wards (many with a drip infusion in their other arm) are a good prospect for a game of fetch due to their mobility. Windsor rushes over to them, drops the ball at their feet, backs off a little and drops to the ground while giving the child the “eye” as if to say, “Please play with me”. I get the child to roll the ball along the ground. They never throw it. Windsor scampers after the ball, brings it back to the child, drops the ball then pushes the ball towards the feet of the child with his nose. This is the funniest thing to see. Then we start all over again. At this stage we usually have an audience and everyone wants to have their turn.

I am in awe of the way in which Windsor treats those patients in wheelchairs. He seems to sense the children who want to but cannot, give him a pat. He approaches the child and nuzzles at their hand then turns his whole body around so that the child may pat him on the back. He is taught not to lick and to stand still when he is being patted. All the same, I marvel at his empathy. It is a sight to behold.

It is very rewarding to be a volunteer and to give something back to your community. I am honoured that my dog can be a part of it too which makes our small contribution so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Hazel, Windsor and Popeye

Delta Society Australiais proud of all our Therapy Dogs. If you and your dog would like to become a Pet Partner visiting team, please read here.

Delta rely on donations and bequests to keep our important therapy programs going. If you would like to donate to Delta, please visit donations and bequests.

Visit the Delta website.

See more Delta Dogs.


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