PETS LIGHT UP LIVES
Therapet Scheme Welcomed By Families Little Mia Ward loves animals – but her health prevents her having a pet of her own.
So when Border collie Shep comes to visit her face lights up and the magic shines from her eyes. Shep is a Therapet.
He, and his owner Susan Ross, who is the area representative for Canine Concern Scotland Trust Therapet scheme, visit Mia, from East Montrose Street in Helensburgh, regularly to allow her to see Shep and to interact with him.
The visits were arranged by nine year-old Mia’s auntie as a birthday present and Mia’s mum Julie said: “I think it was the best present Mia has had for a long time.
” Her dad Ian added:” Because Mia has breathing problems we can’t have a pet in the house but she gets so much from Shep’s visits.
“She can be pretty quiet but when she sees Shep she changes completely – she gets so excited. She is so animated. I don’t know what it is but she obviously gets so much from it.
” Julie continued: “The visits help Mia to communicate she loves animals and gets so excited when she sees Shep. She has a communication book and we have got a photo of Shep in it so she can see him between visits.
” Ian commented: “Mia has got a wicked sense of humour and one of those infectious laughs that if we could bottle it we could sell it and seeing Shep always brings it out."
Shep, who sits quietly and watches Mia with his big brown eyes, made his first Therapet visit at just three weeks old when he went into Clydeview old people’s home with his mum and the rest of his brothers and sisters.
But starting so young is very unusual and Shep comes from a long line of Therapets bred by Susan from top working sheepdog lines.
And when he is not being a family pet or a Therapet, Shep also helps out as a very effective sheepdog who is a match for the most stubborn of sheep.
Susan told the Advertiser: “The Therapet scheme is run by Canine Concern Scotland Trust which is based in Campbeltown. I am the representative for this area and I assess prospective Therapets. All Therapets must work with adults for a year before they can be considered for work with children, which requires a dog that is of the best of temperament you could hope to find.”
She added that Therapets have to have good manners and not bark or jump up and it takes a very special dog to be able to work with Children.
Therapets provide a little comfort in old people’s homes for people who may have had to give up their pets or who don’t get many visits.
They can help children like Mia or dog phobic children and Shep has paid visits to Helensburgh Stroke Club and other similar groups where patting a dog can work wonders.
When Clydeview closed its doors Shep’s mother retired from her Therapet career but Shep works on and he and Susan tend more now to work with individuals and give talks to local groups who need speakers.
If anybody would like to know more or would like to have their dog assessed by Susan they can call her on 01436 678712.
Words by Fiona Howard from an article in the Helensburgh Advertiser 2011
Picture:- Therapet Shep with dog owner Susan, Mia and twin brother Jack.