There is something truly special about the bond between a person and their dog. Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason. Dogs are loyal, compassionate and love unconditionally. There are so many amazing stories out there about dogs enriching the lives of so many people. At the end of the day our pets become a significant part of our family. I am delighted to share with you a little bit about my good friend Alicia Proud’s adorable dog Mr. Fox. Fox is an incredibly sweet dog that makes a positive impact in the lives of everyone he encounters. Fox has been trained as a therapy dog and helps provide emotional support for those in need.
Q&A with Alicia Proud, Meet Mr. Fox.
Is Mr. Fox a rescue? Please, tell us a bit more about Mr. Fox.
AP: Yes Foxy is a rescue, we popped into the Cayman Islands Humane Society shortly after arriving home from getting married in 2017 and I saw this little feeble pup in the quarantine section not doing so good. I enquired about him and pretty much insisted he needed to get to the vet pretty quick as he couldn’t even lift his head for more than 10 seconds. It was heartbreaking. He headed to the vets, I went to visit him attached to an IV drip at this point and then fostered him to make sure he started his second chance with a little loving! And that was the end of Fox’ s time at the HS. We call it a ‘Foster Failure.’
What inspired you to get Fox certified as a therapy dog?
AP: I knew Fox was a special loving character as he was always so happy to see people since he was tiny. I use to take him to work with me in the office so he got to socialize a lot, and people often came in to just say hi to Fox and not the people- lol!! I heard about Healing Paws and thought “Yes” Fox is perfect for this, he was always a cute happy chappy that seemed to make people smile instantly, so sharing his love with everyone seemed easy.
What is a typical day like for Fox when working as a therapy dog?
AP: We aren’t actively working now for obvious reasons but in 2018-2019 we use to visit the Pines residential home and chat to the residents who were open to furry visitors. Lifting their spirits and getting some strokes and licks from our guests. Fox and I also use to work with an individual at NCVO. The bond between Fox and the client was unbelievable and they were both so happy when they played, chased each other around the grounds, played hide n seek, and learnt new tricks. It was wonderful to see them both grow and connect.
What are some of the special characteristics of dogs that become therapy dogs?
AP: Each therapy dog is different and I would say they bring something unique to each person they are trying to help. But generally, therapy dogs need to be calm, well behaved, open, friendly, and it helps to be cute!
If someone is interested in getting their dog trained to be a therapy dog what advice would you give them?
AP: I would say reach out to your local organisation or rescue organisation and make inquiries. But also work on your dog’s behaviours at home, teaching your dog not to be scared of objects, loud noises etc and be respectful and friendly to strangers.
Dogs are known to be great for emotional support and comforting people, how would you describe your experience with Fox?
AP: Dogs are very in tune with human energy they know when you are sad, sick, stressed and happy. If there is stressed energy in the house you will observe the dogs vanish and take themselves away from the situation. When I am calm, they are calm and will settle by you. Fox especially knows how to hug, it may sound crazy but he sits very still when you want to hug him up, it’s like he knows to just hold you for a moment. He gives out plenty of kisses first thing in the morning and always flicks my hand up so I can stroke him, cheeky!
What are some of the positive benefits of having a dog as a pet?
AP: Dogs give you a purpose to jump out of bed in the morning and get going with your day with a brisk walk and some fresh air. They make you laugh, cry and fill your heart with happiness. When you have two or more dogs the dynamics are a little different as you see a pack form and it is very interesting to watch the hierarchy between each dog and the humans in the household. There is always a sense of belonging and responsibility when you have dogs in your family as they really do become part of the pack. They’re also a great starter before you choose to have human babies, if you are thinking of starting a family, get a dog first.
What do you love most about your dogs?
AP: I love how much my dogs entertain me and how they are so happy to see me even if I’ve been gone for 5 minutes. They have taught me to listen and stay more grounded, I am so thankful to have had them with me through covid 19 especially as my husband is away at the moment. They have made me feel safe and protected. I have learned more to tune into their energy as they do mine and feed off each other, it really can change your behavior for the better.
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Photo Credits: Ivor Lee and Alicia Proud