Assistance dog Luna helps Allison with tasks including unloading the washing machine.

Laura Viles is our aftercare officer and along with all of our instructor team, she’s been supporting our clients with regular phone calls as well as checking in via email and online groups.  Help ranges from supporting clients through emergency vet visits when a dog suddenly became ill to assisting new partnerships to learn taskwork activities via video calls and starting the semi-retirement and retirement process for some of our older dogs.  Says Laura: “We start talking about a dog’s retirement for a long time before it happens, so our clients have time to get used to the idea.  Usually we’d make a home visit as part of the retirement process, but obviously that’s not possible at the moment, so it’s all done over the phone or a virtual meeting.  Obviously it’s a sad time, but our clients have dealt with it amazingly and as life has slowed down for everyone at the moment, then perhaps it eases the transition into retirement.”

Laura says one of the big concerns during lockdown has been ensuring our dogs remain at a healthy weight when they’re not as active as normal. “Our dogs are usually quite active, accompanying their partners wherever they go so get a lot of exercise on their usual daily activities as well as free-runs.” Of course, lockdown resulted in all of us being restricted with how much exercise we can do, but many of Dogs for Good’s clients are also particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 so have been shielding during lockdown.

Laura explains: “We’ve been working with all our partnerships to help them keep an eye on their dog’s weight.  Of course, it’s not possible for people to weigh their dogs at the moment, so we’ve put together some guidance so our clients can measure their dogs and check they’re not gaining any weight.  Excess weight can have all sorts of health implications for dogs, just as it does for humans, and in turn, that could have an impact on our dogs being fit and well enough to carry out their task work and ultimately could have an impact on their ability to work, so it really is important to keep an eye on their weight.  Plus, many of our dogs are Labradors, well known for their love of food, so our clients know to be extra vigilant at the moment!”

“Everyone has been great – it’s something that our clients are always aware of and want to keep their dog fit and healthy.  We’ve added a competition element to encourage them to send in their measurements to us, so everyone’s keen to send in their updates.  One client is looking at getting some agility equipment for in her garden so she’s able to help give her dog some extra exercise, she’s shielding and during the recent hot weather, her husband was waiting till the evenings to take their dog out.  It was a great idea and really nice way to enjoy some time together.”