QED and Rusty – born to entertain!
Robyn Youl is a retired poetry teacher and former dog obedience instructor from Victoria. Aged 77, Robyn has advanced scoliosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Yet this amazing lady volunteers every week at aged care facilities with her equally remarkable canine companions, QED and Rusty.
Robyn, QED and Rusty
QED (age 5) and Rusty (age 9) are Papillons trained to a handler using a wheelie walker. “I work them without walking aids in a confined space, but I have to concentrate and trust my dogs absolutely to respect my space,” Robyn says. QED and Rusty are born to entertain with their joyful nature and exuberance! The trio regularly visit Grant Lodge in Bacchus Marsh where the little pooches perform K9 Circus tricks, including playing the keyboard, running through tunnels and jumping on stools and over sticks. Residents laugh with amusement when the Papillons remove Robyn’s wig, ride a skateboard, do somersaults and roll over. While QED counts, Rusty rings bells and plays the horn. QED leaps on a resident’s lap for a cuddle and Rusty jumps beside not to miss out. ‘Mind you, they don’t always do it my way – that is half the fun,” laughs Robyn. “QED likes to do deals before he performs. He rarely does anything before he sees the colour of your money. I’ll offer him one treat, he’ll bark twice, so that’s what I’ll pay – very popular with adults! When QED’s had enough he just goes to his box for a break.” Robyn would love to see government-funded Pet Care Coordinators in aged care facilities to manage pets and hygiene. “I think if we worked with seniors and their dogs through U3A (University of the Third Age), a Council Healthy Ageing initiative or a Government Senior Connected Program, we could teach groups of dogs and their humans how to share coffee together, perhaps visit children’s playgrounds, Botanical Gardens or aim high and visit a free free-range poultry farm,” she said. “Start low key while dogs and their guardians are still at home. Instil the idea that we are capable of learning and so are our dogs if the situation changes. Visit aged care facilities so it’s familiar territory. Make moving into aged care with a pet a transition, not a traumatic relocation.”
— Robyn , VIC