As she reaches her twilight years, Diva’s boarder Len has some words to say on his best friend of the last seven years. From Brood Bitch to Dementia Dog, Diva has embodied the devotion of our dogs throughout her career. We think she’s a pretty special lady.
On Diva, Len says:
“Diva is a yellow Labrador who has been active with the charity for so long that most staff and volunteers have had some connection, either with her or one of her pups. Those who know her will have their favourite anecdote that they like to share but in general she is renowned as a quiet girl who makes no fuss and just gets on with what is asked of her but in her own time! If Diva went on Mastermind her specialist subject would be energy management; she runs her life from her bed and only ventures out of it if she is confident that it will be worth it.”
Diva turned 11 at the beginning of the year and although she is retired, she is still active helping people. During Diva’s career as part of the Dogs for Good breeding scheme she had 4 litters and produced 27 puppies all of which went into assistance dog training; 19 stayed with Dogs for Good and the others went to partner charities. Diva also supported many fundraising events such as tin shakes where her calmness attracted as much attention as the cute little puppies did.
When Diva retired from the breeding scheme she started a second career working on the Dementia Dog project. Len’s wife Tina had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s so with the support of the Dementia Dog team, we considered how to strengthen the bond between Tina and Diva and consider how Diva could support Tina. Working with Tina and Diva also helped to feed into supporting the fledgling Dementia Family Dog service and the activities we worked on became an essential part of Tina’s life. Diva gave Tina purpose in an ever-shrinking world, companionship when Tina’s surroundings were just too complicated to navigate and provided solace when the fears and terrors hit home! At times ‘My Diva’ was all that Tina recognised in her world.”
Sadly Tina is now in a care home and only knows her husband and no longer knows Diva. Diva still knows Tina of course; visits her in the home and still plays a role in getting Tina out and about. Diva is still active helping people as twice a week she leads a group of residents from the care home on a sponsored dog walk challenge to walk the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats during 2023 in aid of Alzheimer’s research. After the walk she spends time with the residents in their lounge getting fussed and cleaning up crumbs while they have coffee and cake.
Diva’s legacy touches every part of the Dogs for Good story, and is a great demonstration of what the staff, volunteers and dogs can achieve. We would like to wish Diva a well-earned relaxing retirement, and a huge thank you to both Diva and Len for their huge contribution over the years to the work of the charity.