Helping our Dementia Community Dogs adapt during lockdown

A catch up with our Dementia Community Dog handler, Julia

So how has lockdown impacted on your usual day to day work with Georgie?

In a typical working week (pre lockdown) Georgie and I would spend 2-3 days a week travelling to different locations to support people who are living with dementia. The rest of the time we would be based at home catching up with paperwork (me) and plenty of rest (Georgie) as well as do training, grooming and play time. Lockdown has completely changed how we work because unfortunately we haven’t been able to do any face to face visits with clients since March which is what Georgie and I both enjoy the most about our role so we have both had to adjust to this.

How has Georgie adapted to lockdown?

Georgie is doing well with lockdown and is enjoying some quality time at home with her human family but she is definitely missing her usual interaction with people outside the home How does a typical day now look for Georgie? Dog walks, training and rest time continue to be an important part of Georgie’s daily routine. We have started to really enjoy early morning walks during lockdown which enables us to socially distance from people and also avoid some of the hot weather we have been having! The remainder of the day then consists of a mixture of training (working on new and existing skills), plenty of naps, play time in the garden and usually an online dog bingo session (followed by another nap). As restrictions have eased off a little I have been getting Georgie readjusted to travelling in the work van again – there is usually a lovely reward of a walk on the beach too!

Are there any new skills Georgie has needed to learn during lockdown?

During lockdown we have been adapting how we can deliver dog therapy, from face to face to virtual sessions. This has also involved equipping Georgie with new skills and I have been doing some extra training to prepare her for the online sessions. Georgie gets a lot of enjoyment from working with clients in person and so we have had to work on a difference in “feedback” and her ability to look at the screen but she has been able to adjust well to this – and people love to see Georgie on screen too! We have also been working on getting her used to people wearing masks and her ability to interact with people slightly further away from me. Georgie and I are looking forwards to when we can safely start to visit clients again in the future – in the meantime Georgie has added another virtual feather to her bow in helping us develop new ways we can support people with dementia during lockdown.