"leuchte auf" finances therapy dog visits in children's hospital
Children who stay at the Balthasar in Olpe Children and Youth Hospital in the next twelve months can look forward to regular visits of an animal nature. Once a week they will meet the therapy dog "Fanny", who comes to the children. The BVB Foundation "leuchte auf" ("light up") has made these visits possible for the hospice with a donation amounting to €6,000.
The Balthasar Children and Youth Hospital cares for children who have a reduced life expectation due to serious and incurable illnesses. Many children stay in the hospital in Olpe once a year with their family. Advanced stages of illness mean that the affected children suffer from increasingly bad psychological and physical damage. Learned capabilities that healthy people take for granted are lost. The meetings with Fanny are then much more than just contact with a dog.
Fanny's friendly and calm demeanour allows her to build a direct relationship with the children. Part of the process involves physical contact, whereby the children can stroke the dog's soft coat as much as they please and give her food. A special education that begins immediately after the dog's time as a puppy means that the seven year old Elo breed always reacts calmly, with her mood remaining stable even when stroked roughly.
"Fanny's visits raise our visitors' quality of life directly. Just recently we had a child staying with us whose parents said that they hadn't seen him laugh for a long time due to his severe illness. Fanny managed to get him laughing again in a short time thanks to her endearing manner. For our work here at the hospice and especially for our guests, Fanny's visits are an amazing enrichment", said Rüdiger Barth, Director of the Children and Youth Hospital in Olpe. Marco Rühmann, manager of the "leuchte auf" foundation, was also impressed by Fanny's presence. "It is really great to see in what a friendly manner Fanny interacts with the kids, and what positive experiences the kids have with her. Through her restrained and careful nature, she always seems trustful. The children are never scared by her nor made nervous", said Rühmann during a trip to the Children's Hospital.
Since during trips to social institutions all therapy dogs may be confronted with unpredictable or unnerving situations, it is important that the dog's suitability is carefully checked in advance, and that they pass a corresponding qualification thereafter. With unqualified dogs there is the risk of unwanted or inappropriate behaviour. For such visits to the Children and Youth Hospital, only a specially trained therapy dog such as Fanny was ever in consideration.