When Ralf became famous it was in his role as a Therapy Dog at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. He had been doing his job, a job he loved, with the children who were sick or dying, bringing them unconditional love and comfort in often their darkest of hours. Ralf happens to be a giant Schnauzer, not your average, bed sized cuddle dog, so you could honestly say that he does definately make a differrence, in every conceivable way!
Toddler Zeke Harrison had formed a bond with Ralf while he was an inpatient. Coming back for his check-up Zeke spotted Ralf walking down the corridor to commence his ‘rounds’ and rushed up to give him a cuddle!
At Ralf’s size, he is a giant Schnauzer, this was something to see. As it happened a press photographer was at the hospital, capturing the moment when child and massive hound came together. The picture went viral and before his owner Caroline Lovick realised it, Ralf was famous!
But Ralf nearly was not as lucky, as series of events throughout his puppyhood and younger life almost saw him headed in the other direction. It was not until the Lovick family required a large ‘guard’ dog that they came across Ralf, living in Tasmania, and desperate for a home.
It was love at first sight with the Lovicks bringing Ralf back to Melbourne to take his place in a loving household, where the children spoiled him. He was soon to become a minor celebrity at the local school as he accompanied the children to school each day on his morning walk. Children did not seem to be worried by his size. His friendly nature and gentleness with them shone through.
It was not until Caroline decided he should continue on with his earlier training to be a show dog, that she took him to the Melbourne Dog Show to put him through his paces, she became aware of ‘therapy ‘ dogs and the incredible work they undertook.
Caroline, as were the rest of the family, well aware of a great gentleness in Ralf’s make-up, in spite of him being boisterous and full of mischief at home. As she was interested in learning more about ‘therapy’ dogs she investigated what was needed and required for Ralf to be able to take part in this program.
He was accepted into the training program and eventually commenced work as a therapy dog at the Trinity Manor Nursing Home, where he soon learned who was a soft touch, whose bed he could spend a little time on and who simply needed to pat and stroke his fur.
In a very short time he had become a much loved visitor as he did his fortnightly rounds.
There was a need for therapy dogs at The Royal Children’s Hospital so both Ralf and Caroline underwent further training to commence work in this very different area of young babies and children who were often desperately unwell.
This is Ralf’s story of how he, with the aid of Caroline, has bought comfort, love and hope to so many over the years as they have sat and watched and waited.
It is a heart-warming story of how love can change the outcome, bring a smile to a sad, distressed person and can offer comfort when many other avenues have failed.
Ralf is just one of the now many therapy dogs who do their rounds on a daily basis offering comfort to young and old backed by unconditional love.
It is just that in Ralf’s case he happens to be a giant Schnauzer.
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin|