Meet Bob & Shaun – the QFES therapy dogs!

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This is one of those articles that just make you smile the whole time you work on it. Meet Bob & Shaun, two therapy dogs from Queensland Fire & Emergency Services that have the job of bringing smiles to peoples faces! We had the chance to speak with their owner, Nesha, who has the pleasure of owning Bob & Shaun.

Nesha & Shaun

Nesha is an Acting Fire Communications Supervisor who happens to have an honours degree in Psychology, with a thesis on ‘The effects of therapy dogs on trauma-induced anxiety” and has owned Bob & Shaun since they were pups. Nesha also has a masters degree in Emergency Management; thesis and work-based project on “Therapy dogs within the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services” and is currently doing a PhD at UQ – also on therapy dogs within the fire service!

“My passion is the benefits that dogs (and other animals) can bring to emergency services personnel (both paid and volunteer) in high stress environments, during critical incidents or large scale and protracted events”. 

If all that wasn’t impressive enough, her work is also the first evidence-based research that specifically examines therapy dogs and firefighters. We’ll get to how that all ties into together in a second, but let’s introduce the doggos!

Shaun

Shaun is a 2-year-old Sheepadoodle (yup, that’s a thing) which is officially an English Sheepdog cross Standard Poodle. Shaun still has his L plates on as he’s training to be a therapy dog, but still gets out there and mixes it up.

Bob

Bob is an 11-year-old Groodle (that’s a Golden Retriever cross Poodle if you didn’t guess it) who started his career as a Delta Therapy Dog visiting the Lady Cilento Children’s hospital.

In 2017, Nesha ran a 12-month pilot program to have Bob try out as the first QFES therapy dog. The research and program proved very popular with operational and non-operational QFES staff and volunteers with plans now underway to incorporate the dogs into the service permanently.

“Whilst this is an ongoing process, the boys are always being invited to visit the crews at major incidents such as the recent Canungra fire ICC and Boonah ICC, and also the SOC and SDCC when these events are occurring.  They have met the QLD Premier, and are on a first name basis with the QLD Fire and Emergency Services Minister.”

It’s obvious by the photos that the impact of therapy dogs in high-stress environments is positive, you just have to look at the smiles on the face of people as the doggos walk around the room. The evidence speaks for itself.

The most common comment I get from people is “This has made my day”.  Regardless of rank, everyone loves it when the boys arrive – in the high pressured environment of an ICC or the SOC, people will take a breath and the energy in the room changes when they trot in. The boys also know that when a phone is taken out they need to pose in position until I tell them otherwise!

What a fantastic program and what an amazing handler! If you want to follow Bob & Shaun, you can like their page here.

Merry Christmas and stay safe!



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