For over five years, MacIntyre’s Head of Finance Julie Graves has been training assistance dogs as well as people who are going to receive the support. Her training has produced four qualified dogs and five dogs in training. This all began when Julie started as a support worker in a hospital for people who had sustained head injuries. With the agreement of the hospital, Julie was allowed to bring her dogs to work during the weekends as a way of providing comfort and support for the patients. According to the Matron, it was clear to see the immediate impact as everybody responded well to the dogs. This has then led to Julie training dogs for diabetic response, autism support, physical disability and risky behaviour.
Through her training, Julie met and supported a young girl called Amelia who has Autism. Before meeting her assistance dog, Amelia appeared to be very shy and lacked confidence in herself. However, with her new friend, Amelia has grown in confidence to such an extent that she has now started instruction classes at the age of 13. The classes have certainly paid off as Amelia did not only compete in the Crufts international dog show, but she won Crufts young handler!
Julie truly enjoys being part of the process to support people to live a life that makes sense to them, a life where they can be themselves. Training assistance dogs has helped support people in many ways, one of them being that when they meet someone or are in a difficult situation the focus will often be on the dog and not the person therefore it makes the situation easier for someone to cope with.
Interested in volunteering for MacIntyre? Your time, skills and enthusiasm could bring so much to the people we support and really change their lives for the better, bringing huge personal rewards to you.