Top Dogs offer support to children prepping for court appearances but to help them cope during proceedings, replica teddies are made to keep them company.
Krugersdorp, South Africa – Top Dogs – Therapy Dogs is an organisation that takes dogs to visit the elderly voluntarily. Touch Our Pets Therapy Dogs, more commonly known as TOP Dogs, has teams on the East Rand, Pretoria, Johannesburg North and the West Rand. Their primary objective is to provide comfort and companionship by sharing the dogs with those in hospitals, care facilities, other institutions such as schools and wherever else the Therapy Dogs are needed.
Therapy Dogs elevate the mood of a facility in general, with those being visited showing an increase in happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being.
Studies have shown that a person holding, petting or talking to an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, relief of stress and tension, and an easing of loneliness and depression.
Top Dogs is always looking to recruit handlers with suitable dogs so that we can reach more people in need. If you would like to find out more about the organisation, you can contact them via Facebook here.
Aside from their voluntary programme, the organisation has also been working with The Teddy Bear Clinic South Africa for the last three years to help prepare kids for court using their incredible therapy dogs.
“This was a first for South Africa. The visit started with just the main visit where the kids get to have some destress time after a hectic morning of court prep. More recently, the work we are doing has expanded into the small group work and to Krugersdorp where the team does the main visit and the court visit. At Krugersdorp, the teamwork in the actual court.”
But, there has been a missing link. It’s awesome that we are there for them every step of the way but then we are not there for them on their big day when they have to go to court. In the US, UK and Australia the dogs are allowed to be with the child testifying, but in SA our courts do not allow our dogs to assist This missing link bugged one of our handlers until 2 am one morning two years ago when it struck her: the dogs can go to court with the kids, we just had to get creative about it and create replicas of our dogs.”
That is when their project took a turn for the phenomenal. People started knitting and crocheting replicas of the therapy dogs working with the children. So when the real-life dog can’t be in the courtroom, a teddy version of the dog can be there to offer comfort and support.
“This project went national and many of you assisted in crocheting and knitting the dogs. With over 300 dogs donated (and more that arrived yesterday), our team used the opportunity of our 10th-anniversary celebration to hand over the missing link to our colleagues at The Teddy Bear Foundation.
Thank you to all of you for helping make the dream a reality.”
While therapy dogs are making waves in South Africa for the excellent work they do, so are their teddy counterparts. To get involved in making dogs for the project, you can contact the Top Dogs team via their Facebook page here.