A charity which trains dogs to aid veterans recovering from mental and physical illnesses is one of the many organisations having to adapt to life during the COVID-19 lockdown.
For Bravehounds, which trains companion dogs to support former service personnel and their families during the recovery process, life has been a little trickier amidst the pandemic.
Former soldier Michael said his dog Titch has helped him to bounce back after hitting rock bottom following his Army days.
He said before he would only do something “if I needed to do it”, whereas now his approach is tailored to Titch’s needs, which Michael says mean he gets out for more walks and exercise.
The charity offers ongoing support sessions, but face-to-face visits are not possible right now.
However, online video sessions continue.
Michael says Bravehounds has been there for him “every day”, which he says helps him “know they’re there and they’re helping you”.
“They’re going to be there no matter what,” he said.
As well as the services delivered by the organisation online, teaching has also gone digital.
Puppy handlers’ training of companion dogs is commonly done in group sessions but is being carried out remotely for the foreseeable future due to social distancing.
The charity’s Gwen Matear said: “It is much more important at this stage, that we get the puppies out and about as much as we possibly can, and, do as much training as we can with them around those things.
“However, with the COVID situation, they’re not able to go into a café, for example, they’re not able to go on the bus or on the train, so what we’ve had to do is just adapt.”
Despite the complications of the coronavirus landscape, staying connected is critical to ensuring Michael’s recovery and Titch’s training keep moving forward.