Dogs are well known for spreading joy and love, but Miss Maizy has taken it a step further as a therapy dog.
Miss Maizy’s owner Leanne Pearce said animal-assisted therapy is an important service.
“Having experienced first-hand how my very own dog Maizy impacted my social, physical and emotional wellbeing I wanted to share Maizy with others,” Leanne said.
“After completing study about animal assisted therapy and how our canine pals are being increasingly used as participants in a myriad of mental health, social and educational programs, it ignited my passion once again to deliver a pet therapy service to my local community of Bundaberg.
“I set up my own business and became fully insured to provide this service.
Miss Maizy spreads joy in aged care facilities
“I approached aged care facilities in Bundaberg about my pet therapy service and was fortunate enough to have three facilities employ me to visit with Maizy and thus our journey began.”
Miss Maizy Pet Therapy has been operating for more than two years.
“Maizy and I started visiting aged care facilities in April, 2018,” she said.
“During this time Maizy and I undertook six months of therapy dog and handler training through Tessa Stow, counsellor and service dog trainer at K9 Support.
Maizy is a Maltese-cross-Fox Terrier and, as a therapy dog, her role is to react and respond to recipients in their own environment under the guidance and direction of her handler, in conjunction with a provider to work towards a specific therapeutic goal.
“A cuddle and a pat from Miss Maizy and offering a chat sparks talking and laughing,” Leanne said.
“Maizy is encouraged to interact with a variety of people who love dogs.
“Spending time with Maizy helps shift focus from many aliments such as depression, chronic pain or feelings of isolation.
“Maizy is also known to entertain with a trick or two for special treats.”
Before COVID-19 Miss Maizy and Leanne were contracted to provide pet therapy to five local facilities.
Hospitals and schools next
With restrictions now easing they hope to be able to visit the aged care facilities and would like to broaden their scope.
“My future goal is to work in hospitals and schools,” Leanne said.
“I would like to introduce a reading program to primary schools, Stories with Miss Maizy.
“The popularity of using therapy dogs in schools to assist staff and students in various ways has many benefits such as decreasing leaner anxiety and enhancing student communication with peers and teachers due to experiencing trust and unconditional love from a canine friend.”