RAAF Puppies Thrill Sunshine Ward Kiddies

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Puppy kisses and cuddles were a welcome distraction for patients of the Children’s Sunshine Ward at the Ipswich Hospital.

In December 2018, Corporal Natasha Falconer and her colleagues from the RAAF Security and Fire School Breeding Cell tasked the staff and patients with the job of naming Seven Military Working dog puppies.

The chosen names of the Indigo 6 litter are Ivy and Iris (female) as well as Iron, Ippy, Ida Ishhi and Igloo for the male pups.

“We’ve brought the dogs out for a meet and greet so the children can meet the dogs that they’ve named,” CPL Falconer said.

The visit was a welcomed break for the puppies also, who are in the midst of being trained to work in fields such as security patrolling, emergency response and intruder detection and apprehension.

“On a day to day basis, these dogs are normally being taken out and we’re playing games with them, teaching them to chase balls and bring them back, teaching them basic positions like sit and down using food for reward, socialising them and getting them to experience new environments and new things so that they learn to overcome anything.

“These dogs will go on to protect [RAAF] bases, assets and personnel.”

Kirsty Franklin, Nurse Unit Manager of the Children’s Sunshine Ward said the whole experience from naming to seeing the puppies was a delight for the patients, their families and staff at the Children’s Sunshine Ward.

The Children’s Sunshine Ward hosts patients from birth to age sixteen, and has facilities for up to 23 children at a time – currently, there are 17 kids receiving care.

“We were approached to name the litter of puppies and so what we did was involved the patients and the staff here to name all of the [RAAF] puppies.. which was a really amazing experience for our patients because being in hospital is not always fun and is definitely overwhelming for families because they’re away from their normal environment,” Ms Franklin said.

“Having the opportunity to have them [the puppies] visit has been amazing and the kids have loved it.. really lovely to use this as a form of distraction for our kids here.”
Puppies from the Indigo 6 litter that aren’t cut out for ‘RAAF life’ will be sent out on a tender process, meaning some of these cuddly pooches may go onto be household pets or assist in PTSD programs.