Therapy dogs making a difference in Wingham

They are soft, furry and very, very friendly.

The Delta Therapy Dogs of Wingham - Dylan and Lucy have been making a big difference to the lives of residents of the Frank Whiddon Masonic Homes for the last few months.

Each Wednesday the dogs alternate and one will visit each week.

Dylan is a six and a half year old Border Collie and Lucy is a small Sheltie cross owned by Brenda Driscoll.

If the residents have a preference they are not showing it this day.

It's Dylan's turn and there is an air of anticipation as a small group await Dylan and his owner Peta Amos to arrive.

Also waiting are representatives of the The Whiddon Group Ladies Auxiliary - the group responsible for sponsoring the Delta Dog program at the homes.

"It is beautiful to see," Marilyn Kelly of the auxiliary said.

"The residents eyes light up when they see the dogs."

The group decided to fund the program at the March meeting and Marilyn speculates the sponsorship will continue.

"It has been very successful," she said.

Suddenly there is a heightened air of excitement in the room and we spot a large black and white Border Collie that appears to be smiling.

Dylan and Peta were trained for the Delta Therapy Dogs program through Wingham and Valley Vets.

For the past six months Dylan has been offering a wet nose and a paw to shake to those that need it the most.

And Dylan couldn't be happier.

Hands reach out and he is showered with affection.

He even gets a biscuit.

"He really enjoys doing it," Peta said.

"I really love spending time with Dylan and it is something I can give back to the community."

As Dylan snuggles up to residents, Peta answers various questions about her dog.

Residents are keen to know how old he is, what type of dog he is and is Peta his owner.

"I get asked that a lot; perhaps they think I am just his handler."

Peta and Dylan are a volunteer Delta Therapy Dog Team, one of five such teams operating in the Manning Valley.

A team will spend an hour with residents but they have gone through many hours of training to get to this point.

"It can be hard to find the time and it is a lot of work," admits Peta.

"But it is really rewarding and worthwhile."

Peta and Dylan have gone through various training over the years; puppy class and two adult training classes preceded the Delta program.

"We are always looking for more teams," Louise Rourke of Wingham and Valley Vets said.

"It is such a valuable thing to do."

To enquire about the Delta Therapy Dogs program - and to see if your dog can join the other Delta Therapy Dogs (Dylan, Lucy, Harley, Molly and Riley) make a difference - call Wingham and Valley Vets on 6557 0133.

Visit the following websites for further information: