Caring Canine Finland
|The mission of Caring Canine Finland is to increase public awareness of dogs’ ability to improve human health, and to promote their appreciation as animals that have a natural ability to improve people’s well-being. Dogs can help people live fuller lives, and for the time being, we have only discovered a fraction of their skills and what they mean to us. While pursuing our mission, our goal is to increase the use of dogs for improving human health and well-being, with different target groups.
There are approximately 600,000 dogs in Finland and they live close to people, in homes in both cities and the countryside. Thus, dogs are already performing an important function in promoting the health and well-being of their families, and they form a significant potential reserve for such activities outside of their homes. Since the 1970’s and 80’s, horses have assisted therapists in helping their clients deal with e.g. depression, disturbances in the self image, psychoses and traumas. On the other hand, the use of dogs in animal assisted therapy and other such activities is still a new phenomenon in Finland.
|Caring Canine brings together the canine community (individuals, clubs and communities) and social and health care services. This cooperation produces services that can be classified as stimulating and recreational; these services then offer means for maintaining good health and the ability to function, increasing well-being and preventing isolation from taking place. Clients include public institutions, organizations and companies providing services for people recovering from mental health problems, senior citizens and those with chronic medical conditions. The benefits these clients receive are based on the impact of dog assisted activities, which has been studied scientifically and proven to be positive.|
|One of the main principles of Caring Canine is that the dog in itself is enough; there is no need to teach dogs any special tricks in order for them to be good companions. The dog is appreciated for being a dog. On one hand, these activities improve the well-being of humans within their sphere and on the other, they offer ways to improve the proper care, treatment and incorporation of the dog into society, and thus, the well-being of dogs. The values that define Caring Canine’s line of action are cooperation, fairness, courage and taking the time.
On a practical level, our activities are based on utilizing the routines that make up an ordinary day for a dog owner. As an example, dogs can be taken for group walks with the members of the client organizations joining in. They get to enjoy the company of dogs and the health promoting benefits, with or without a dog of their own. For dogs, this is an excellent socialization exercise, improving their ability to function in society and providing a natural form of activation and enrichment.
Caring Canine also organizes courses and classes for clubs and dog owners. Subjects vary from basic obedience training to dog sports (Scandinavian style search, tracking and general working trial, and obedience). Also, we offer services for the everyday life of a dog owner. These vary from small procedures such as clipping nails, to walking the dog or providing transportation to a veterinarian’s office, for example.
Photo by: Juha Ohtonen
The idea of benefiting from the company of dogs came into my life partly through my 30 years as a dog enthusiast, but also through riding therapy and the social pedagogical horse activities I came in contact with during the years I worked at the Equine College Ypäjä, 2005-2009. The functional mod
el of Caring Canine is largely based on a social pedagogical point of view. One of the major reasons I decided to start this company was the volunteer work I did for a national mental health society operating at the Lohja region (called Lohjan Mielenterveysseura). At first I was a sponsor and group sponsor, later I became responsible for building their canine company program. In the course of these activities, we received such positive experiences through customer benefits that there was no alternative other than to go on, and continue the rewarding and inspiring work.
My formal education is that of a MSc in marketing and BBA, but after 13 years in marketing I have refocused my efforts towards my true calling, that of helping people in the social and health care field. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to combine my companions, the dogs, with this activity. My education and experience in the canine field contain several courses, such as judges’ basic course, dog handler course, canine coach course, trial secretaries’ basic course and the trial secretary course for Finnish working dog trials plus the breeders’ course by the Finnish Kennel Club. I have completed the C, B and A level courses for canine character description assistants (MH, Mentalbeskrivning Hund) and am currently studying to become descriptor, the “judge” in MH. I am especially interested in character of dogs and their working characteristics. The dog breeds I own (hovawart, lancashire heeler) have taken me to the MH board of the Finnish Lancashire Heeler Club. I have signed the Breeder’s Agreements of the Finnish Lancashire Heeler Club, the Finnish Hovawart Club and the Finnish Kennel Club. My kennel name is Hoivakoira (which means caring canine in Finnish).
|Competing in different types of trials with my dogs also forms a part of my background. My main interests have been working dog sports and obedience. My motivation for competing has been to determine the level of my dogs’ (and my own!) skills, and to evaluate the success of my training and the fruits of our cooperation. I am the last person to be called an ambitious competitor. Behind everything I do with my dogs, there is an endless thirst for more learning and the joy of working with dogs. This does not exclude trials or even success, for example the hovawart Breed Championship in working dog trials in 2009 & 2010. In the future, I will concentrate less on competing and training, and more on promoting the canine culture, in the interest of increasing awareness as well as the use of dogs for human health and well-being purposes. Most likely though, I will not stay away from the training fields completely. I’m sure the interaction between man and dog will continue to keep me in its grip for the next 30 years too! These are the factors that led to the birth of Helena the entrepreneur and my company, Caring Canine Finland, in late 2009 and early 2010.||
Photo by: Jan Tanskanen
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