It doesn’t get better than the Isle of Wight does it? All that sunshine and the smell of salty brine and fish as the ferry gently chugs across the inviting blue sea, its flag rustling in the warm breeze. And that’s pretty much what it was like on Wednesday when I visited our army of volunteer puppy parents as they met for their weekly puppy class in Godshill Scout Hall. All of the above applied, plus a choc chip cookie on the voyage over, just to put the icing on the cake. The only fly in the ointment was the early start in order to check in at 7.30am at Portsmouth Harbour, but that’s ok. We ‘sea dogs’ like early starts, after all. Read more
Selection and training of applicantsCanine Partners has developed a detailed assessment process to identify those people who are most likely to enjoy the benefits of an Assistance Dog. Potential Partners are asked to complete and return an application form and then medical reports are requested from their doctor, consultant and health care specialists - whichever is most relevant to their individual circumstances. All details are treated in the strictest confidence.
Eligible applicants are invited to attend an initial assessment day to see how they interact with the dogs and to see if they enjoy the process. It is an opportunity for us each to start getting to know each other. A home visit is then carried out by one of our regional Occupational Therapists to see if the applicant would need to make any adaptations to their home or garden to prepare the way for their future Canine Partner. Then if the applicant is successful they will be put on a waiting list to be matched with the most suitable dog. This can take anything between 9-14 months. The matching process will necessitate further visits to Heyshott to work with the dogs and identify the most suitable Canine Partner. Once the dog has completed its tailor-made training, the Partner will attend a two week training course staying in specially adapted facilities at Heyshott. If practical reasons make it impossible for a Partner to travel to Heyshott our service may be provided in a different way.
ConsiderationsWe need to make sure that an Assistance Dog will bring benefit to a potential Partner - dogs bring extra chores and responsibilities as well as "the fun side" and an applicant needs to be prepared for this. Dogs need exercising every day, regardless of the weather, if they are to be happy. Having an Assistance Dog will not be the most appropriate answer for everyone - between us we try to come to the right conclusion for every individual. There will also be some costs associated with dog-ownership although these may be covered by Direct Payments and of course, the dogs are given FREE OF CHARGE to their Partner. Full details of costs are provided. They become the dog's full custodian and so complete a Dog Custodian Agreement Form (the charity retains ownership of the dog). Our dogs are fully insured and this becomes the Partners' financial responsibility on renewal.
What are the Partner's responsibilities?A Canine Partner is totally reliant upon its Partner for feeding, grooming, exercise and play. A Partner must be willing to undertake the majority of these responsibilities themself as it is important that a one-to-one bond develops. This ensures that dog and Partner get maximum benefit from their partnership together. The Partner undertakes to become the dog's legal "Custodian" and agrees to provide for all its needs (the Charity retains actual ownership of every dog it trains). Our dogs enjoy learning new tasks which will help their Partners, but in return they need lots of love, praise and affection. It is also important that they have the opportunity to exhibit normal natural doggy behaviours - these are often the times that a Partner enjoys the most too. So everyone's happy!
If you're not sure if having a Canine Partner is the right thing for you, why not contact us anyway to get more information? And if you don't believe "your need is as great as somebody else's", why not apply and leave it to us to decide? Your need may be greater than you think, either physically or emotionally.