[PHOTOS] Top therapy dogs dish up loving cuddles

The TOP Dogs and their owners, from left: Chrissie Smit with Maisie, Adele Thompson, Stephanie Stolz-le Roux with Gremlin and Suné Whittal with Baily at the Featherbrooke Retirement Village's Frail Care unit.

Aren’t they just the cutest? The residents of Featherbrooke Retirement Village definitely thought so when three dogs from TOP Dogs paid their monthly visit to the Village on Tuesday, 7 June.

“We come here very month. Some of the residents can’t wait to see the dogs and some are even disappointed when a dog they like isn’t there on the day,” Stephanie Stolz-le Roux, a volunteer at TOP Dogs, said.

Touch Our Pets Therapy Dogs (TOP Dogs) is a programme made up of volunteer owners and their pets who take a bit of time to visit schools, frail care units, hospitals and disability centres to spread some unconditional love. TOP Dogs was started by eight dedicated therapy-dog handlers, and their pets, in August 2008. The dogs are also involved in animal assisted therapy, activities and educational programmes. They bring company, support, comfort, focus, pleasure, stress relief, stimulation, and a distraction from pain or infirmity to those they visit.

On Tuesday, Baily (an American Staffie), Maisie (a chocolate Labrador) and Gremlin (a Maltese cross) paid a friendly visit to the retirement village.

“When I put on Baily’s leash, she gets so excited,” Suné Whittal, Baily’s owner said.

Dogs need to pass an evaluation that ensures little Jack won’t eat anything he sees on the floor or jump up on hospital beds off command before they can become TOP Dogs. Stephanie said that any dog can apply.

“If your dog is good-humoured and obedient, you and he can join us. People definitely do feel better when they are able to pet a dog while they’re in a hospital bed or in a frail care unit. It is very therapeutic for humans,” she said.

And if Jack fails the evaluation, his chances of becoming a TOP Dog don’t necessarily end there. The evaluator is an Accredited Animal Behaviourist, and can often help with issues your dog may have – and once the issues are resolved, he can be re-tested.

If you and your Jack would like to volunteer for TOP Dogs, contact Stephanie on 071 334 1348 or send an email to [email protected].

For more photos of the Top Dogs visit, click here.

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Chantelle Fourie

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