Volunteers Of The Furry Kind | SPD - Singapore
Volunteers Of The Furry Kind
DAC client Siow Hui giving Nereus a pat on his head
Individuals usually have to be at least 15 years old before they can sign up as volunteers with us. However, we have made exceptions for these two ‘under-aged’ friends.
Nereus is just four and Teddy is seven, but the former has been a volunteer at our Day Activity Centre (DAC) in the last one year as part of the pet therapy programme which is supported by the Humane Society (Singapore) through Mutts and Mittens Pte Ltd which we started the programme with.
The monthly visits by the caramel-furred mongrel never fail to bring joy and giggles to our clients. They pat, cuddle and take him for walks around the SPD compound.
“Besides promoting social interaction, encouraging the clients to exercise through walking the dogs is also one of the objectives of our pet therapy programmes,”said Ms Judie Chang, Nereus’ handler and operations manager of Humane Society (Singapore).
“We are happy to see their eyes light up whenever we bring the dogs around,” she added.
Nereus was abandoned when he was just a day old. Left to fend for himself in the heavy rain, he was found near drowning in the water. Rescued by Mutts & Mittens Pte Ltd, Nereus became the shelter’s permanent resident and a pioneer in their pet therapy programme.
A natural in the job, the usually energetic Nereus becomes calm and comforting around children and those with special needs.
Joining Nereus on the job at SPD in May was Teddy. It was the Shih Tzu’s first day of work as a therapy dog. The clients were excited to meet the friendly pooch who was recently abandoned outside the society. Judie believes that with Teddy’s even temperament and friendly disposition, he has what it takes to be an outstanding therapy dog.
Before their visits, Judie walks them to drain any excess energy. She also trains them to be sociable through rewards and positive reinforcements. Other training includes proper walking behaviour as pulling the leash may result in the clients getting injured.
Humane Society (Singapore) is a charity set up to help animals that are abused or abandoned through education, community outreach and adoption efforts.