Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meeting Frankie from Bear Cottage

Frankie the assistance dog
Frankie from Bear Cottage shakes paws.

SAT readers may be aware that SAT has been behind a fundraiser for Bear Cottage, a children’s hospice based in Manly. We learned about Bear Cottage when we read about the residentassistance canine, Frankie, who among other things can operate the electric train set and use the lifts to get herself around the place. Frankie is the non-human member of an incredible team who care not only for sick kids but their entire families.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to Bear Cottage to meet the team (although Phil sat this one out in front of the heater).

It was a pretty miserable Sydney morning, the traffic resembled a scene from Ben Elton’s Gridlock and it the rain poured down. The moment I arrived Frankie greeted me at the door, gave me an enthusiastic sniffing-over then laid down on the couch with her head in my lap.  

Frankie lies down
Frankie lies down on command.
As I toured the Cottage I could see first-hand just how important this kind of place is, providing comfortable accommodation, art, music and play therapy, a homely environment and total care so families can spend precious time together. And Frankie’s presence just adds to the warmth of the place.

Bear Cottage is a resource in demand – it operates at 100 per cent capacity and staff try to accommodate the needs of visitors as very best they can.

Frankie contemplates her next trick...and a treat.
Frankie agreed to demonstrate a couple of tricks for me (for a small price of course, she is a Labrador). When I returned from the car with a basket of presents for her she knew that she was the intended recipient and started to unwrap them immediately. She received a new bed, a food hopper, a bag of toys, some Greenies and potato ears (like pig’s ears but made of potato instead of pork).

Frankie the labrador with toys
Frankie embraces one of her new toys on her new bed.
I wish everyone I gave gifts to responded with such enthusiasm! It was a fantastic morning and a real honour to be able to visit the team. Frankie was still on her new bed when I left.

Frankie wears potato ears.
Frankie rapidly established that potato ears are better eaten than worn.
I have one more superdeed to perform as part of my fundraising commitments before hanging up the cloak til next year. That involves giving a lecture at the University of New South Wales next week. You can donate to this effort here, or find out more about Bear Cottage here