Dick and Trixie have been devoted volunteers at Huis Horison, through the Pets as Therapy (PAT) program, which is an international charity where animals offer empathy to people. For him as a volunteer, the journey has been as rewarding as for the residents.
You can usually hear when Dick arrives at Horizon House. His sonorous laugh, echoed by Trixie’s welcoming howl would mobilize the residents who loved the pair. If they missed their weekly visits, or have been away for longer than usual (when Dick had a knee replacement), the residents would start enquiring about their absence.
“For the past six years, I have been visiting the community at Huis Horison with Trixie, my mixed breed dog, under the banner of Pets as Therapy (PAT). Trixie is the most loving dog. It doesn’t take long to find her way, with a broad grin and a wagging tail, into the hearts of those wishing her attention.
It is interesting to observe how each person reacts differently towards her. Some people just want to give her a quick pat, while others adopt their special responses to her. For instance, giving Trixie a treat produces a hearty laugh at their fingers’ gentle nibble of thanks. Some residents develop their own more complex routine – such as waiting for that lick from her on the cheek or ear – while there are those residents who wish to demonstrate their special obedience routine with her.
For me, these weekly visits have been an amazing and rewarding journey. It allowed me to learn to work with Trixie, and we formed many precious friendships, not only with the residents but with all those involved with this very special facility.”
Over this long time and to our residents, he has become a part of their lives and a highlight in their day every Wednesday afternoon. The therapeutic benefits for our residents and day workers are displayed through the increase in confidence, happy smiles, and the soothing effect of stroking a dog. Most of them will tell you how much they love animals.
Sadly, Dick and his wife, together with Trixie and Paddy will be emigrating later this year, to be closer to their children. They will be sorely missed. Huis Horison thanks them for all their treasured hours spent with our residents and day workers.
We look forward to our next PAT volunteer dog and handler team – who will take their place to stand on the broad shoulders of Dick and Trixie as they did on the ones before