Hand signals for in-training Aurora

August 2020 |

Aurora is always welcomed by residents at Orana Aged Care in Kingaroy when she makes a visit with owner and staff member Katrina Hughes.

Katrina says the two year old border collie is instantly recognisable with her beautiful colouring, but her deafness has made some aspects of her training a bit tricky.

The therapy-dog-in-training responds to hand signals rather than voice commands. Katrina must be in her eyeline to get the message across.

Katrina confesses with a laugh that Aurora is going through ‘her terrible twos’ and that training has had to step up a notch recently.

“She loves to rip up grass at the moment – I don’t know what’s going on!” she says.

All the signs are good for a stellar therapy dog, she says.

“My mum is in a wheelchair so it’s really great to train Aurora with mum,’’ Katrina says.

“At my signal Aurora drops and crawls forward and only comes up to a sitting position when signalled.’’

This is important when dogs greet frail people, or those wary of animals. “

So instead of getting all excited and running up and jumping ‘oh you’re going to pat me’, she’s all calm,” Katrina explains.

Aurora is one of the many dogs that either live with residents at Lutheran Services aged care and retirement village communities, or who visit regularly with their owners. Regular visits are also made by pet therapy dogs.

Katrina says animals and older people deliver wonderful companionship and really lift spirits.

“Dogs really are fantastic for older people. Aurora is just unique, there’s none like her.”