Annimal assisted intervention
A helping paw
Meet Yogi and Cindy, two extraordinary Newfoundland dogs…
Owner Norman McConnachie combines running his business, Military Fitness Training, with being a volunteer surf lifeguard and his Community Dog programme with his fully trained Animal Assist Activity/Therapy dogs Yogi and Cindy.
Yogi and Cindy, two huge but gentle Newfoundland dogs come from Poland and Belarus and are also trained in Water Rescue. Norman explained, ‘Yogi and Cindy’s daily activities provides an alternative type of therapy to medications, which comes under the realm of Animal Assisted Intervention. This is the term given to interventions where a specially-trained dog and professional handler work together, in conjunction with a human services professional, such as a therapist, social care practitioner, teacher or healthcare provider, to promote improvements in the physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning of a person.
‘It might be helping to build self-esteem, overcome anxiety or depression, changing behaviours, teaching responsibility, accessing the community and learning to socially interact with others. We also work with companies and staff dealing with pressured work to help with mental health and wellbeing.
‘Yogi and Cindy provide therapeutic visits to hospitals, care homes, schools, special care facilities and a variety of support to both adults and children, which we hope to expand in the future.
‘Yogi and Cindy also provide Water Rescue and safety services to events and were recently involved in helping during the flooding in Brechin and Broughty Ferry. They have so much more strength and endurance than humans and love the water. I’d really like to establish a water rescue training school in Aberdeen and have it recognised by the emergency services.
‘We don’t charge for our work, but donations are always welcome to help us help more people in the local community.’