Meet the UK’s first ever surf therapy dog, Scooter. Rescued from being put down as a stray in Portugal, the poodle-cross now lives in West Sussex where his special skills and bright blue mohawk have made him a local star. Kirstie Coy-Martin, 48, rescued him back in 2016 after seeing his photo online: “When he was found in Portugal they were to take him to a pound, but it was full, so he was going to be put to sleep,” explains Kirstie. “I saw his picture and his eyes and fell in love with him. So, I brought him over here.”
A keen surfer herself, full-time police officer Kirstie taught Scooter how to surf. To start with, he learnt to balance on the surfboard using cushions to resemble rocky waves before progressing to the sea. Kirstie said: “I follow lots of surfy things and dog things, and discovered one day that over in America there was such a thing as surf therapy dogs. I thought, wow, I wonder if I could teach Scooter to surf.”
The dynamic duo now spend their days helping others as part of their not-for-profit surf school, ‘Scooter’s Surf School.’ Scooter also visits patients in hospitals and care homes.
This summer the impressive pup has been working with the Wave Project, a national charity helping children and young people with physical, mental and social issues, and who run 6 week surf therapy courses.
He made brilliant progress with a 13-year-old Ander who struggles with severe anxiety. After missing the first two sessions because of his condition, Scooter was able to encourage Ander out of his car, into a wetsuit and eventually onto a surfboard. By the end of the sessions, Ander wanted to join his local Wave Therapy surf club. Mum Laura Etherington said she was blown away by the change in her son: “I have never seen him love a sport as much as surfing but I honestly don’t think we would have got him in the water without the both of you,” she told Kirstie.
Scooter also took part in a ‘One Wave Bracklesham Bay’ charity surf, raising £2000 to get a specially adapted surfboard so he can ride waves with physically disabled children, took to the beach to campaign with Surfers Against Sewage about the pumping of sewage into beaches in his local area and is even set to release a children’s book called ‘Scooter The Surfing Dog Finds His Forever Home.’
I work for a dog-friendly company – should I take my dog into work with me?
It’s fantastic that your company is dog friendly but there are some things to consider before heading into the office with your pooch. You need to make sure that this is something that your dog can cope with and will enjoy. Think about your dog’s personality and behaviour and consider if they are suitable for your work environment. Will they settle easily and are they comfortable with other dogs and people? If they worry about people they don’t know, or get over-excited with other dogs, it would be worth thinking about whether this is the right environment. Is there some training you can do to prepare them?
Consider their physical health too. Do they struggle with stairs, for example? Are they up to date with their flea, worm and tick treatments? You also need to think about where they will spend the day while you’re working, if there is somewhere they can relax, stretch their legs and go to the toilet? What about if you have a meeting?
You must also think about your commute and if it’s suitable for your dog. Are they comfortable on a train or bus, especially at busy times? If you drive to work, do you have suitable restraints?
Speak to your employer about what arrangements are in place to have your dog at work. Dogs Trust’s Dog Friendly Workplaces programme helps businesses welcome canine colleagues with training and support for their employees.
For more information and expert advice, visit dogstrust.org.uk Do you have a question for Rachel? Email [email protected]
Did you know it’s #HappyCatMonth ? If you’ve ever wondered if your cat is ‘feline’ happy, here are a few signs that Cats Protection says to look out for: 1. Slow blinking – if your cat looks at you and slowly closes and opens their eyes, this shows that they are feeling relaxed and happy in your presence. 2. Social roll – a cat’s tummy is a very vulnerable area, so if they lie on their back and show it to you, it means they trust you enough not to give them a belly rub. They often use this as a way of saying a happy hello so a simple fuss on the head will be a welcome response. 3. Head butt/cheek rub – if your cats starts rubbing their head or cheek on you, they’re actually leaving behind their own unique scent via glands on their skin. Scent is an important method of communication for cats and this behaviour can leave a message for the cat to let them know that it’s a calm, safe place.
This is seven-year-old beagle Mamma Mia, who Prince Harry and Meghan revealed this week they had adopted. The beagle is one one of 4,000 dogs rescued from a US site in Cumberland, Virginia, which has since been closed. The couple have also pledged their support for Beagle Freedom Project, which saved Mamma Mia and is now hoping to win a campaign to close UK breeding site MBR Acres.