Four paws, a muzzle, noble head and a good heart. For more than four years a dog called
Brontés has been helping to people .
The dog as a key to the heart
There is a man laying at the neurology department in Prague´s Thomayerova hospital after an epileptic seizure. And there is also a dog resting on his chest. A six years old short haired collie with a canisterapeutical training, named Brontés. He is a regular guest at the department with his owner Renáta Novotná, thanks to the zootherapeutical activities sponsored by the non-profit organisation Lékořice. But at this moment it seems like the sick man is not even aware of dog´s presence. Renáta puts man´s palm on the dog´s paw but it brings no reaction. For ten minutes, twenty… The owner than comands the dog to jump down from the man´s bed, because other patients are waiting. The dog does not seem to be willing to obey, but finally he does, he knows he must. In the same moment a man´s hand moves, his breath goes faster, his lips begin to move as if he he tries to say something. "Dannie, is that you?" sounds weakly his voice. He tries to talk to the dog for another ten minutes, before Renáta needs to take him away to other patients. On the next therapy the man is conscious and communicative but still calling the dog „Dannie“. He used to have a dog of that name, who has died long time ago. The man talkes to Brontés with eyes full of tears, petting him. His recovery is faster now, soon he is going to go home from the hospital. Even if he believed it was his dog „Dannie“, the presence of Brontés clearly brought him a strong motivation to move and talk again.
Collie, who gives joy
Renáta could tell a lot of similar stories. Some of them almost make one smile and cry in the same time. The children from the psychiatrical department, sick adult patients who have lost the motivation to live, dying people for whose this dog was the only source of happiness, or just „common“ patients , who could forget their pains for a while when playing with the dog, all those were „actors“ of these stories. But there is one thing connecting all these stories - the four paws and the noble head of the unique short-haired collie, which gives joy. "Originally I trained Brontés for my mom, who was very sick. I taught him how to serve her things, help at the home, take off her socks and slippers, or pass her a tv remote. And Brontés was incredibly fast getting all that, he simply understood everything,“ Renáta sais. Unfortunately Renáta´s mother died earlier before she could really use his services and Renáta was thinking how to use this extraordinary quick learner´s abilities. She contacted the „Helppes“ organisation, which tested the dog and realised that he is a real talent for the canistherapy. "He has been tested if he is not too much a „muddle-head“, if he can cooperate with strangers and if he gets on with other animals. The result was clear – he has great preconditions for the canistherapy. So we started“ recalls Renáta. When Brontés passed the demanding tests and received a certificate proving that he actually may help in the hospital, they started visiting the department of child psychiatry, where the canistherapy just started.
Dog relax? Give me a tassel! There for more than an year and half Brontés has been helping to children from dysfunctional families, who were waiting to be placed to the institutions. "It was mentally very challenging. We met for instance a blind and nearly deaf boy, abused by his parents, who did not know any other emotion than a fear. But Brontés made him to laugh again. There was another boy who did not speak for three months, until meeting Brontés, giving him comands and asking me when we would come again. The nurses were completely stunned,“ Renáta says. And here we are again, almost crying under the tremendous power of these stories. But slowly it was obvious that a big group of seriously traumatised children was a bit too much exhausting even for Brontés. Eventually he was replaced by a new canistherapeutical dog and Brontés started visiting adults at a neurology. "Always when coming out from the hospital, he begin to run and jump like crazy in the need of releasing the acumulated stress. In addition to dog therapy, Brontés does the coursing, in which dogs chase the tassel. At that moment he changes from the gentle and calm therapeutical dog to an “unguided missile“ Renáta laughs. This collie has dozens of awards from dog shows, it is as well an elegant dog good looker with a great charisma. How is actually possible to motivate a dog to do what Brontés does? There must be a unique combiation of character, genetic predisposition and patient training. "When training, of course Brontés receives his little rewards, usually dried meat sliced. And from patients during the therapy he receives dog bisquits. I remember one old lady who refused to eat and become seriously malnourished. But she has agreed on feeding Brontés with the bisquits. So we made a deal - for each piece she fed to Brontés, I gave one spoon of puree to her. Like this she finished a plate and I don’t need to mention that Brontés was happy as well with this therapy,” Renáta tells us another story.
Pass met the remote, socks, dental prosthesis… The presence of the dog is perceived even by the people who are not able to move or speak, as indeed illustrated by the story of the sick man from the beginning of our arcticle. "Another time a patient´s dental prosthesis fell on the floor and Brontés immediately lifted it up, trained that whatever falls he must bring back. The fake teeth looked so funny in his mouth that everybody laughed a alot that day“ Renáta explains merilly. But not everyone is friendly to the dog, there are people with a strong aversions as well. Brontés can sense it and he never goes to these people, only if forced. "We had a man who was seriously bitten by a dog when he was a child and dogs just terrified him in general ever since than. He always only observed Brontés from a distance. Than, seeing how gentle Brontés was, he gradually became close with him. The man´s girlfriend came for visit another day and couldn´t believe her eyes, seeing him petting the dog, totally surpprised that he was finally able to overcome his huge fear of dogs,“ Renáta says. As she likes to mention, the dog is like an icebreaker, a key to the lock, unlocking people's hearts. And that is the biggest reward as well for the owner. "It happened to me, that old ladies after our visit in the hospital began to pull out the money, forcing me to take it for what Brontés did for them. But that feeling that you have when Brontés really helps to someone is not possible to be enumerated by no money. We accept only dog biscuits“ the owner explains. Not everyone in the hospital believed in the meaning of the canistherapy and abilities of Brontés. Even the nurses and doctors had to get used to it. But now they are in love with him and his first steps in the hospital always goes to the nurses room to please the nurses.
Do not argue, the dog can hear it!
To be an owner of such an extraordinary dog is both a big joy and a big concern. Of course Brontés became a member of the family, everyone knows how special he is. Everybody can see how his work changes him. From a carefree doggie to a creature that responds to every emotion, even a well hidden one. It is not alowed to have an argument in Novotny´s house. As soon as Brontés hears that someone raises his voice, he rushes in, demanding an explanation, whining to stop them. "So I guess we stopped to argue with my husband thanks to him" Renáta laughs while scratching Brontés and his puppy that they kept. Brontés has already almost ninety puppies all around the world. A dog champion is a desired father of the puppies including breeders even in the UK. And is the son of Brontés going to follow the steps of his succesfull daddy? "It would be selfish to think that we will have such an exceptional dog for a second time, Brontés is simply the dog of my life. But I know that he won't be here forever. So in his his son we will have his memory,“ Renáta gets serious.
Brontés is chasing his puppy around the lawn in front of the house. At a first glance it looks like a perfectly ordinary dog. The only difference is that he has changed life to dozens of people.