Dogs have long been human beings' most loyal companions and furry little friends that add an extra measure of warmth and security to our lives. They are also able assistants long known for guiding the blind, uncovering contraband, and helping hunters track and retrieve prey. In more recent years, our canine companions have learned yet another new trick-providing therapy for people in need. There are currently more than 100 active therapy dogs in Taiwan. These animals are bringing warmth and healing to elderly care facilities, hospitals, early intervention facilities, and special education centers.
Volunteers from the Taiwan Charitable Service Dogs Association (TCSDA) arrive at the Jen-ai Eldercare Foundation facility in Neihu at the crack of dawn accompanied by three doggie doctors. Bank, an eight-year-old golden retriever, and Winner, a six-year-old giant schnauzer, have been service dogs for six years. Bao-bao, a four-year-old red poodle, has been a service dog for a year and a half. Zheng Shaowen, a trainer with the TCSDA, dresses Winner in a yellow bow, a skirt, and a service-dog vest, instantly transforming a very large animal into a dignified lady and alert volunteer. Lin Jiong-yan TCSDA's founder and Bank's owner, helps Bank into a hat and bowtie, preparing the easygoing old dog for work. Bao-bao, the adorable little poodle, doesn't need to be dressed up to make her less threatening. Her owner, Li Xing-zhen, simply puts her into her service-dog vest and sets her to work, and it's time for a house call.
Dressed up and ready to go, the human-canine teams enter the lounge looking very professional. The doggie doctors have been making regular visits to the Jen-ai facility for nearly six months. "Their every visit brings smiles and laughter to our seniors," says Xu Jin-ling, the foundation's director.
在破晓时分，台湾爱心服务犬协会的志工就陪着三位狗医生来到位于内湖的私立仁爱颐养园。八岁的黄金猎犬 Bank 和六岁的大型雪纳瑞犬 Winner 都已服务六年之久。四岁的红贵宾宝宝服务年资则为一年半。台湾爱心服务犬协会的训练师郑少雯为 Winner 戴上黄色蝴蝶结、穿上裙子及工作背心，这只身形相当巨大的动物立刻化身为高贵的淑女及警觉性很高的志工。爱心服务犬协会的创办人，同时也是 Bank 的主人林炯彦替 Bank 戴上帽子与领结，让这只平易近人的老狗准备上工。外型小巧可爱的红贵宾宝宝，不需要刻意打扮就没什么侵略性。牠的主人李幸真简单地帮牠穿上工作背心准备上工，牠就知道出外看诊的时间到了。