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Memories of NZ: ‘SpokesDog’ for Outreach Therapy Pets!

You know, I only started my blog when I was 5yrs old and there was all my life in NZ before that, which I never got a chance to blog about…

…so me & Hsin-Yi had a good idea: we’re going to start doing these special ‘Memories of NZ’ posts from time to time, so that I can share some of my life from the time before I started my blog, with you.

Here is a little movie from my life back in NZ that I haven’t had a chance to show you on my blog yet 😛 This was when me and my human, Hsin-Yi, were asked to go on national breakfast TV!

Yup, see – when we were in living back in Auckland, I worked as a Therapy Doggie and went to visit patients in a rehab centre for people who hurt their brains or spines and couldn’t move around easily.

I was a really good height for people to pat in a wheelchair and I also didn’t mind “rough handling” – ‘coz some of the patients couldn’t always control their hands and legs very well, so they might mean to pat me but end up bashing me on the head instead. But that’s OK – I’m a really confident doggie and bounce back very quickly from being “startled” so I was really good for doing this sort of visiting. 😛 I made lots of the patients very happy and I used to help them with their “mobility exercises” – like getting them to throw a ball for me or even just stroking me.

I also visited a special facility for human pups who had come from bad homes and had bad things done to them – or done bad things themselves. I showed them that you don’t have to get grumpy or ‘aggressive’ as a way to solve problems and they loved playing with me and grooming me and doing my tricks with me.

I tried visiting senior humans in resthomes too but that didn’t work so well ‘coz their bedrooms were so small that I couldn’t turn around once I went in and my wagging tail used to knock all their precious china ornaments off their tables! 😉 Plus I like to Shake Paws – I often give my paw by myself, without being asked – but senior humans have very thin, fragile skin so my claws might have scratched them badly. Hsin-Yi used to get very stressy at each visit and keep worrying that I was going to hurt someone or break something. So we stopped going after a while – although they really missed me and kept calling Hsin-Yi, asking when I was going to go back! 😉

I loved doing my therapy work and I loved being part of the Outreach Therapy Pets team! This was a joint group between St John NZ and the SPCA. I made lots of good friends from the other therapy doggies too and we used to go on playdates, sometimes, after our visits. Aside from our usual visits, we also attended “special events” from time to time, to represent Outreach Therapy Pets and tell more people about the work of therapy pets. I always got a lot of attention, coz I was the biggest doggie on the team! 😛

So one day, they called us to say that Outreach Therapy Pets had been invited on breakfast TV to tell more people about their work – and would I be their SpokesDog? How exciting!! So me & Hsin-Yi went to the TV studios and there was a big ambulance machine parked outside and we had to wait inside for a loooooong time until it came to my turn – and then suddenly they opened the doors and we had to “pop out” and say our piece!

Well, Hsin-Yi did most all of the talking, really – I got a bit distracted ‘coz I smelled something interesting under the stretcher in the ambulance and kept wanting to stick my nose under to investigate. So you can see me in the video keep sticking my head behind Hsin-Yi and not looking at the camera machine – she was awfully embarrassed and had to keep pushing my head back into place! 😉 Still, I did redeem myself by licking Tamati Coffey‘s face and making lots of people laugh – he is a famous TV presenter in NZ and we think he is quite hunky! 😉

Well, here is the movie of my moment on national breakfast TV! (Oh, how we miss the Kiwi accents!)


If the movie doesn’t play, try here: http://youtu.be/Vw-D9FQZi_U

Since moving to Australia, we haven’t joined any therapy pets group – mainly because we just keep moving from city to city constantly and Hsin-Yi is always too busy & stressy and has too much on her plate already…we barely settle down in a new city before it’s time to start packing again! But next year will hopefully be our last move. So once we finally settle down, we think we might look into joining a therapy pets team again.

I hope it won’t be a problem, though, coz we heard that the Delta Society in America doesn’t let pets on the Raw Diet join their teams ‘coz they say there is more bacteria on them (such rubbish! All doggies have bacteria on them, no matter what they’re fed and if the patients were that weak / immuno-compromised, they shouldn’t be meeting any animals or general people anyway!! :roll: We heard some other people whisper that the real reason was because the Delta Society was being sponsored by a big kibble company?!) –  well, we don’t know if this is true but that’s what we heard. So we’re not sure if the Delta Society in Australia would think the same way. If they did, then we wouldn’t be able to join.

But anyway, Hsin-Yi says at the rate that we’re going, by the time we’re settled, I’ll be such an old doggie – I might need therapy visits myself! Ha! Ha! 😆

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21 Responses to Memories of NZ: ‘SpokesDog’ for Outreach Therapy Pets!

  1. Nightshade says:

    Hey Honey,

    It must have been a very satisfactory and thankful job being a therapy helper! Too bad that there is no time/opportunity to continue right now, but hopefully you’ll be able to pick it up after your next move.

    Maybe it would be a good thing for me to do as well. Though I can imagine my humans preferring NOT to take me to senior resthomes either, for exactly the same reasons your human has stopped taking you there. I usually wag my tail ferociously when someone gives me attention; which would probably end up smashing the china in the people’s rooms. And I also tend to offer my paw spontaneously when greeting other people. My humans usually make me sit down in order to greet someone, so that I won’t act too excited and wild; but once my bum touches the floor, my paw goes up in the air. I can imagine that paw being a little too big and rough for older people…

    It truly is rubbish what the American Delta Society says about dogs on a raw diet! I’m on a raw diet too, you see, and I’m convinced that it’s much healthier than all the things they usually put into kibbles. Hopefully the Australian Delta Society won’t be so severe so that you’ll be allowed to join when the time comes.

    A big paw and slobbery kiss from Killian
    and a big hug from my human, Karolien

  2. Hi Honey,
    I was sure interested in hearing about your life in NZ. Cathy, my human, lived in NZ a long time ago and she became a citizen she liked it so much!

    I too would like to help people who are sickie but Cathy says that I am too young to do that yet. Humph! I think an almost 5 month old puppy is quite mature and eager to help out so I’m a bit miffed I have to wait.

    I think you looked exceptionally charming in the TV video clip… you showed intellect and wonderful curiosity as you checked out what may have been living under the bed thing… who knows what may have been there?

    Thanks Honey
    I love reading your blog!
    Nibbles and Slobbers

  3. Melanie & Grendel says:

    Hey Honey –

    Thanks for sharing the pics and video from your therapy days! It was particularly good timing that I should read this blog today, since we started the morning taking Grendel to visit kids at a summer camp with a group of other therapy dogs — and we’ll be doing another camp on Friday :-) Just like you, Grendel is always the biggest dog in the room on visits like these. Though he did have some competition today from a borsoi — who was a bit taller but only about half as WIDE as Grendel 😉

    I hope you can get back into therapy work whenever your humans finally settle down. Delta’s caught some flak for the raw diet restriction, but to my knowledge they haven’t changed their policy. I don’t know if it extends to Oz or not — hope not!

    Hugs & Slobbers from Melanie & Grendel

  4. Well, we will have to listen to this at home this evening, but we couldn’t help but laugh as we were watching. You can’t help it if you get distracted Honey! When interesting smells are around, you have to check them out!

  5. What a wonderful video, Honey and Hsin-Yi! The two of you are celebrities!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  6. We absolutely loved this post! Honey you are such a good writer to be able to mix humor and seriousness the way you do!
    We had a good honest laugh for at least half an hour!
    I can see so much of myself in you as well! Like where ever a dane is from, we have some strong common behavior! Like how i’m always (in)appropriately out of the picture, and goofy, and as soon as Anais wants to show off my moves i start thinking about things and forget to obey!
    Lots of slobber,

  7. Would they really ask you what you eat? I hope you get to do more therapy work Honey. It looks like you were very good at it.

  8. Honey you are such a cool dog!!! A long time ago I worked as a horticulture therapist with people who had coordination problems and other stuff too, so I know how much it means to them to have help with their therapy. And with you – FUN help!!! Maybe you can be one of those dog little kids read to in order to gain confidence. Then you can lie down and relax, but do therapy too! Love ya, Honey!


  9. sprinkles says:

    Somehow, I’d forgotten that Honey used to be a therapy dog!

    When my father was in the nursing home trying to recover, a lady used to bring her dogs in to visit.

    And then when he went back to the hospital, another dog would come in and visit him. My father was pretty out of it, so he didn’t pay any attention to the dog, but I enjoyed petting her while she was there.

  10. Lassiter Chase & Benjamin says:

    Honey! We loved the video. You looked a little camera shy when you kept hiding you head behind Hsin-Yi. But it was a precious video and it had Mommy smiling from ear to ear!

  11. How cool!!! Yes, I no longer recommend DELTA to people who are looking at therapy work for their pet. At least in the US there are other options for people wanting to be certified. It’s so ridiculous.

  12. Paul Thompson says:

    That is a very cool Program We have something simmaler here in the states and as a Former CNA myself Ive seen the benifits of having animals around the elderly and stroke victoms and its amazing what they can do with a little four legged encuragement VEER cool HONEY !!!!

    • bighoneydog says:

      HI Paul – thanks for your comment and sorry if this is a stupid question but what is a Former CNA? We don’t know what CNA stands for! :-)

      • Paul Thompson says:

        Hi Honey I got your email 😉 and Sorry for not explaining thins a little better. A CNA is a Certified Nursing Assistent they handle most of the patent interaction and are there to take care of a person who is elderly or physicaly Handiecaped they do evertying from dressing the patchent to helping them go to the bathroom and cleaning there rooms. In my case I was a CNA in nursing homes for quiet a few years untill my body could no longer handle the strain.
        The good news however is that Im going back to school in September for a Phlibotomey Licence.That is a lab tech who takes blood for a living So In a way I will be a vampier With a lab coat and with out the Alerty to sunlight lol.Thanks for the Email and I always love your blogs BIG HUSG to your Heumens and Big hugs to Mesli OH by the way the last nursing home I worked for actualy had two resident cats that used to rome the halls visiting the Patients rooms. One of them was very attached to me and every once in while Hed try to climb my leg LOL .

        • bighoneydog says:

          Oh wow, Paul – how COOL about you going back to school and the new job that you’re going to do! I have never had a vampire for a friend – hee! Hee! Good luck with everything!

          Honey the Great Dane

  13. parlance says:

    That’s a lovely clip. I enjoyed seeing Honey kiss the very kissable reporter. It must have been very satisfying to be in therapy program. I can see that Honey’s height would have been a great advantage.

  14. Jacquie says:

    Wow Honey! That is great that you and Hsin-Yi would volunteer your time to help the sick and disabled! When my Great Dane puppy (we decided to name her Lady) is older and trained, I would like to do something like this w/ her.

  15. What a great idea! And you’ve had so many adventures, Honey!

  16. Roo says:

    That was a really fun interview :) You both were very professional. Glad you gave the news dude a face wash Honey 😀 Hardy Har Har!

    Waggin at ya,

  17. Emma says:

    Wow you’re an official movie star. That was a great video. I bet you had everyone at home glued to the tv.


  18. Hehe Honey, Muesli is your therapy ROFLOL! 😉

    That was a great video! I love that you guys were on T.V. So cool!! And the idea about posting stuff that happened pre-blog is awesome!!!!!! Great idea. I can’t wait to read more.

    I hope you get a chance to do therapy visits again and that they won’t have a problem with the raw diet. That’s sad….

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