Meet Dexter the Therapaws dog

In this blog, we introduce you to Dexter, one of St Mungo’s participating TheraPaws dogs.

What’s a TheraPaws dog you ask?

Well, being a TheraPaws dog involves taking regular visits to vulnerable members of the community (those living in mental health centres, hospitals, hospices, care homes etc.) who love seeing and engaging with canine friends.

Therapy dogs are an invaluable asset to homelessness charities such as St Mungo’s as they give the opportunity to reach out and offer a calming and non-judgemental presence to some of society’s most hard-hit individuals. That’s why we are one of the few charities that accommodate people who are homeless with their dogs or other pets wherever possible.

Dexter is a playful and friendly four-year-old Labradoodle based in West London. As a therapy dog he likes to spend his time supervising staff and trying to encourage complete (but often willing) strangers to play with him and his ball or frisbee!

Dexter became a TheraPaws dog when one of his staff spotted that a charity was looking for volunteers for their TheraPaws programme and applied accordingly. After passing some background checks and an assessment to determine his suitability, Dexter took part in an induction programme to embark on his new calling as a therapy dog. From there, he was matched on various projects that suit both dog and volunteer teams with appropriate clients.

Dexter got involved with St Mungo’s when Niamh Carwood, the TheraPaws co-ordinator at Mayhew, got in touch with us here at St Mungo’s to match Dexter as a therapy dog with one of our clients. The client in question has had some social isolation issues and we thought that Dexter’s irresistibly sunny, sociable nature could help bring this client outside on a more regular basis.

Thankfully, our notion that the client and Dexter would get along was well judged – the client has never missed one of their weekly appointments! St Mungo’s staff, the client as well as Dexter very much look forward to these visits, where all parties got to enjoy some time outside, with Dexter showing how a frisbee should best be chased. The visits also give St Mungo’s staff another (neutral) talking point on which to focus with the client, as well as giving Dexter another pal to pull into his games.

Want to get involved in the fight against homelessness with your dog? Why not sign up for our #MungosTakeTheLead challenge this August. Register yourself and your dog, find some sponsors and pledge to walk 26.2 miles throughout the 31 days of August.

Together with all of our participants, we’re hoping to raise £12,000 and walk a collective total of 4,266 miles – one mile for every person found rough sleeping on a single night in England last year.

Interested? Read more about the dog walking challenge here.