WDP - Seamus The Therapy Dog
So, we are in the home of Emma and gorgeous Staffie Seamus. They met in Emma’s final year at university when she was doing her PhD in animal welfare. Seamus is a lovely dark brown Staffie - officially his colour is tiger brindle. He is a very ‘chatty’ boy and joined in the conversation throughout our interview, putting a smile on all our faces.
She was looking for a dog from an animal rescue background and a middle-aged dog too. Emma wanted to give a home to an older dog as she knew that it was harder to find homes for older dogs and there was always the added benefit of no puppy and potty training. She wanted a dog that would sit on the sofa with her and be a companion.
After a good deal of thought and a little trepidation, Emma decided to take the plunge. Emma is big on research and had been looking for the right dog for some time. She spotted Seamus online at the local RSPCA and with her husband in tow, off they went to visit him. They both sat with Seamus on the floor until he fell asleep in front of them. It only seems like yesterday but in fact it was three years ago. Seamus is such an affectionate boy, and they fell in love with him straight away.
Seamus had two owners before he found his forever home. His second owner knew it was time to give him a better chance of life as he was spending a long time on his own without company and was showing signs of stress. On further investigation it seems that his first owner had not treated Seamus well, and he had a pretty neglected upbringing. A vet x-ray showed that his two front paws had been broken when he was very young, but how that happened is not clear.
Despite all of this, Seamus is still a loving and trusting dog.
Emma and husband Ben have spent a lot of time socialising Seamus and it has been hard work but worth it as Seamus just gets better and better.
So we know a little bit about Seamus‘s background but how did he start his journey to becoming a therapy dog? Like many therapy dogs that we have met, the journey began at home. Emma had been struggling through her PhD with stress and anxiety and Seamus became very important to her. He gave her a reason to get up, go out, interact with other people and get on with the life that she was becoming withdrawn from.
Emma realised that Seamus could be really helpful to other people too, so she applied for him to become a therapy dog. The acceptance process is rigorous, and Seamus passed with flying colours. The assessor checks that Seamus is a calm dog and doesn’t pull or beg for treats and doesn’t jump up and interacts well with the humans he meets as well. Once Seamus was accepted, he and Emma began a regular weekly visit to the local old peoples’ home.
The group that Seamus works for is called Therapy Dogs Nationwide. They are a friendly group whose members have a great voice and a supporting manner.
As soon as Seamus puts his uniform on, he knows it’s time to go to work. Seamus visits older folk for chats and company and spends a good chunk of time with many of them each week. He is a firm favourite and get treats and plenty of attention. His friends in the old folks home really look forward to his visits.
The therapy dog experience is both dog and human and Emma spends a lot of her time chatting to people and providing much-needed company to a group that really appreciate it.
She recognises that her Staffie is very intuitive and remembers one time she was giving a talk when a member of the audience became upset. Seamus immediately went over to calm her down. He recognises a panic attack and is there to be stroked and becomes a point of focus for the sufferer.
Seamus has a big personality and really enjoys life. His tail continues to wag throughout the photo shoot and Emma remarks that if scientists could harness the power of his wagging tail we would already be carbon neutral.
What a lovely boy Seamus is, a credit to Emma and Ben. He is an RSPCA rescue dog that still wants to help people even though he didn’t get the best start.
If you want to know more about Therapy Dogs Nationwide or the RSPCA, click the links below.