At Friends of the Elderly’s Little Bramingham Farm residential care home in Luton, Bedfordshire, the resident’s regular furry, four-legged visitor – Winnie – has had a lovely day celebrating her first anniversary of visiting the care home.
Winnie – affectionately known as ‘Winnie The Pooch’ – is a cute Blue Roan coated Cockapoo. As a qualified Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog, Winnie spends every Monday morning with the Little Bramingham Farm residents enjoying fun games and plenty of cuddles. In honour of her first anniversary, Little Bramingham Farm’s Activities Coordinator, Karen Charity, gave Winnie a special crinkle dog toy newspapers.
“We thought that as it was Winnie’s first anniversary, like a first wedding anniversary, we should get her something dog-friendly and paper-related,” said Karen. “The crunchy, crinkly dog newspaper toy went down a treat. She thoroughly enjoyed walking around the care home, proudly showing off her new present.”
Winnie’s owner, Martin Rodker, said, “Winnie is such a character with a loving and kind personality. She loves nothing more than playing games, doing her tricks for treats and snuggling up to the residents for cuddles.”
“Winnie has always been confident around people and loves meeting new residents who she immediately includes in her ‘Winnie Pack’. Each Monday morning when I say to Winnie that we are going to Little Bramingham Farm, her tail immediately starts wagging. She doesn’t miss a trick. Each week when we arrive at the care home and I’m signing in, Winnie’s tail starts wagging like mad and she’ll make her special ‘I’m Here’ noise to let everyone know she’s arrived. We then go to the Lounge for her meet and greet session with the residents, which is when the games begin.”
“Winnie and I have a special game, which she adores and the residents find hilarious,” added Karen. “I cover Winnie’s nose and eyes and Martin hides treats around the Lounge and then tells her to find them, which has our residents laughing and giving her hints where to find them – everyone gets involved in The Treat Hunt.”
“I’ve also taught Winnie a new trick,” continued Martin. “She sits still and I balance a treat on her nose. When I say ‘go on then’, she cleverly – and very quickly – flips it into her mouth. However, I only give Winnie very small puppy treats during her visits as I don’t want her over indulging.”
After her fun time in the Lounge, Winnie makes her rounds to the residents’ rooms. Last on her weekly visiting list is Pauline Dimery. Pauline has been a resident at Little Bramingham Farm since June 2021 and looks forward to seeing Winnie.
“Pauline and I have great banter,” said Martin. “Whilst Pauline and I catch-up, Winnie patiently sits on the bed enjoying some cuddles, but she’ll keep one eye on Pauline’s table as she knows that’s where Pauline keeps her biscuit treats. Winnie knows they are there but waits until Pauline gives one to her.”
However, on her first anniversary, Winnie made sure that everyone saw her new crinkle newspaper toys. “Winnie was over the moon with her newspaper toy present,” said Martin. “She’s not let it out of her sight since.”
Martin ensures he continuously keeps up with Winnie’s training. “When we visit the park, I will ask Winnie to sit and wait. I’ll slowly move away – sometimes she’s a dot in the distance, but still sitting. I have a training whistle which I quickly blow twice and she’ll come running to me and sit close to me and remain still.
“I make sure I keep training Winnie as PAT Dogs need to be under the owner’s control at all times, without relying on the use of training or behaviour correction aids,” Martin added.
“When Winnie is with us, she makes such a positive impact on our residents,” said Emma Lawrance, the Registered Manager at Little Bramingham Farm. “She lights up every room she enters. With her wagging tail and beautiful puppy dog eyes, she melts everyone’s hearts.
“Winnie has such a kind, patient, compassionate and friendly demeanor, she has quickly become a much-loved member of the Little Bramingham Farm family. She brings a lot of joy and happiness to our residents. I heard a saying the other day, ‘Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen’. I think that must be true as all our residents definitely listen – and talk – to Winnie,” Emma concluded.