It is a proven fact: therapy dogs can facilitate contacts, create a bond and improve the quality of our support for our patients. With some people, an even stronger bond is created! This is the case of Mr. D., who will no longer do without Walt.
Entre Walt et Monsieur D., l'attachement est réciproque
Walt is an almost 10 year old male Jack Russel terrier (mix). In his role as a therapy dog at Street Nurses, he accompanies Gaëlle, nurse and head of the My Way department, during her visits to certain people who have left the streets and are housed and settled in Brussels.
In his life, Mr. D. has faced several bereavements in a row, including that of his own adored dog. He then entered a negative spiral until he found himself on the street. He is now well settled in his accommodation. He is accompanied by the My Way team, which works on the solid anchoring and development of our re-housed patients, in order to avoid a return to street life.
“When I go and see him with Walt, we always have a great time. Walt recognizes him and is happy to see him. It's always very sentimental because it also brings him back to his painful past, ” explains Gaëlle. “When we go for a walk, he holds Walt's leash. It cheers him up and makes him smile!”
A pretext to open the discussion
Walt's presence makes it possible to discuss the question of the social network and loneliness, important themes for people who still bear the scars of street life. Gaëlle: “He has already told us that he wanted to take a small dog again, but does not know if it is a good idea. He is quite old, and sometimes has to be absent for hospital treatment. He wonders who will take care of it if something happens to him. So we discuss it.”al. Mais il se demande qui va s’en occuper, s’il lui arrive quelque chose ? Alors, on en discute. »
Health is one of the difficult subjects: “I will say, for example: ‘You know, Walt went to the vet!’ and we're going to talk about doctor visits. This is very positive because he has always stubbornly avoided talking about health issues. Here, at least, we can!”
Mr. D. also likes comics and humor. “We thought of co-creating a comic strip about him and Walt going to the doctor together… It may sound childish, but it’s a great way to play down and talk about difficult things.”
Walt forged a strong bond between Street Nurses and Mr. D.
Mr. D. says he has great confidence in Gaëlle and Street Nurses. “We have developed such a strong bond that he would be willing to take a dog, as long as I agree to look after it if necessary. It would be give-and-take, because he also offered to do that if I go on vacation,” she says, laughing.
As soon as Gaëlle contacts Mr. D., he asks her how Walt is. He is really attached to the dog. “To go visit him, I have to take Walt along. Otherwise the discussions are not as productive.”
And to conclude, a bit of humour:
“Mr. D. likes to repeat that, at Street Nurses, only Walt works! He manages to make us smile every time.”
Support Walt and the animal mediation project
(*) We do our utmost to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. However, we want to testify to how they must survive and how we are working together to reintegrate them. As a result, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in a different context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.