Rolf and Jiyu’s story
Jiyu, the second ever Assistance Dog for Dementia in Australia. Jiyu the black labrador has been matched with Rolf and Vyrna in Melbourne.
We asked Vyrna how things are going with their new four-legged family member, and here’s what she said.
“Since Jiyu arrived in our home, we have spent much time walking, investigating new surrounds together, and getting to know each other. We love his typical morning greeting, rubbing his head against us and enjoying a rub in return. While we could take this to be a pure display of affection, we also recognise the unspoken message: ‘time for breakfast’. By nature, Jiyu is calm, soft, well-mannered, affectionate, accepting (of our occasional clumsiness), curious and obedient. He has accompanied us to hospital, where he lay next to the Rolf’s recliner while Rolf received a routine infusion. He has joined a group of ex-students at 50-year reunion at Melbourne Uni, untroubled by the BBQ’d meat being consumed on all sides. And he has shared a quiet moment of trust at home with Rolf, with his chin resting on Rolf’s hands and eyes locked. Although Rolf has a major problem delivering words of command, Jiyu is developing an understanding of Rolf’s unspoken intention, delivered mainly by gestures, body language. Rolf summed his feelings up the other day, with a spontaneous: ‘This dog is MARVELLOUS!! He is just BEAUTIFUL’. Rolf is one happy man, which is what this is all about. And I share that, in spades!
Just recently, I was trundling along with my walker behind Rolf and Jiyu, on a daily walk, when I was suddenly and unexpectedly swept up by a feeling of euphoria – a strong sense that this is how it should be; Rolf on his journey through Alzheimer’s accompanied by his canine friend, who is always by his side when we are out. In a sense, the two have become one, and to me the journey is shared and softened. Although the journey is clearly in no way easy, I just had the momentary feeling that all is right with the world! Thanks Jiyu!”