Thanks to the JC for featuring this article about our Animal Assisted Therapy.
PET THERAPY DOG BRINGS JOY FOR CAMP SIMCHA FAMILY
A miniature Schnauzer pet therapy dog brought such happiness into the home of a Camp Simcha family that it has inspired them to get their own puppy.
Peppa the dog visited the Ellul family in Edgware as part of the charity’s Paws for Fun scheme, which sees volunteer dog owners, with their specially trained pets, visiting families for therapeutic support.
The family has been supported by Camp Simcha for over ten years, after their son Nathan, now 15, suffered brain damage at 15 months. Since then, he has required full-time care.
The Ellul’s Camp Simcha Family Liaison Officer Samantha Charles said Nathan’s mum Suzanne initially took a lot of persuasion to try the pet therapy for his twin sister Gabriella.
“We have put lots of support in place for the family over the years, including hospital transport, crisis household support, volunteers, therapeutic art sessions, support groups, outings and retreats, however Suzanne was not a dog fan and just didn’t feel that the pet therapy was for them,” says Mrs Charles.
“I have a close relationship with Suzanne and I knew she wasn’t a dog person, but I really thought it would be beneficial. I finally persuaded her to try it; it took it a few goes with different breeds, but then Peppa and her owner Ingrid paid a visit and it was an instant success.”
“Studies have shown that interactions with animals increase endorphins promoting relaxation, pain relief and joy,” explains Mrs Charles. “This was the motivation for Camp Simcha to start the pet therapy programme several years ago. It benefits the seriously ill children we support but also the siblings, who often have so much to deal with as well.”
Mrs Ellul said the visits from Peppa brought a sense of calm to the house. “I hadn’t expected to enjoy having a dog around but the time we spent with Peppa was so lovely that I could really see the benefits.
“During lockdown Peppa couldn’t visit and we really missed her. It made me start thinking about getting our own dog. Once I started looking into it, we were very fortunate to find a breeder who prioritised us because of our situation and now we have our own miniature Schnauzer, Jasper.
“After we made our decision, Sam arranged for the Camp Simcha Pet Therapy dog trainer Lynda to help us to get settled and also to ensure Jasper was comfortable around all the equipment Nathan needs.
“It is lovely for Nathan to have the dog on his lap and to have that interaction – but it is particularly good for Gabriella.
“When you have a child with such complex medical needs it has a huge impact on the whole family, but especially for Gabriella as his twin. She is already loving having Jasper in our lives.”