Meet Billy, Scotland’s first Dementia Community Dog.

Billy began his relocation to Scotland from Dogs for Good in Banbury in September of 2017 to become Scotland’s first Dementia Community Dog.

After an initial settling in period Billy began to slowly acclimatise to his new surroundings, the new people and dogs in his life and begin to build a new routine.

The ability dogs have to adapt to new situations never ceases to amaze and astound; Billy is no exception.

He has settled in well in his home and work life and is enjoying the company of a big (little) brother Rocky, a six year old JRT mix and a three year old cat. Having never lived with a cat before this was one of Billy’s first big challenges. One I am pleased to say he mastered almost instantly. He was very curious about his new feline housemate to begin with, but soon realised that cats who just sleep all day are boring.

His personality is really beginning to show now, a dog of two halves, enjoying the colder weather North of the border and an active outdoor life, having climbed his first mountain. But he is always the first to find the hottest spot by the fire when indoors.

A quiet break at home over Christmas and we were right back all paws to it for 2018.

Chosen for his role in part because of his natural way with people, seeking out people and wanting to interact with them is what makes Billy great for this Community Dog role.  However this can throw up challenges of it’s own, as we have discovered that Billy thrives so much on the attention he gains from working with people that he can sometimes struggle if he isn’t meant to interact. Dog training is sometimes as much about not doing as it is about doing; the secret is to know the difference.

Now in the advance stage of his training and progressing well, Billy will begin his work as Scotland’s Dementia Community Dog in the next few months. This stage of his training consists of tailoring his program to develop the specific skills he will need to be a successful community dog and deliver Animal Assisted Interventions to people living with a diagnosis of dementia. These skills will include becoming familiar with a varied range of interactive aids to create sessions that will encourage the person with dementia to work towards a personal goal while bonding with Billy and becoming an effective working team.

A big part of this training is helping Billy to be comfortable in more “real life” situations attending busy Dementia groups, visiting care homes or out and about in the wider community. This training will enable him to be adaptable and comfortable in almost any environment and develop excellent dog-person social skills. We are currently working in the town environment much more in the lead up to our qualification assessment next month.

Once qualified Billy and I will become an official partnership and will being our journey to help bring joy to people living with dementia.