THERAPY dog Belle has become a viral sensation, with a video of her wearing goggles clocking up more than 3.6 million views.
Capalaba residents Helen and Gary Squibb own the three-year-old great Pyrenees mountain dog who is a therapy pet at the Mater Hospital.
“She wears the googles to protect her eyes from wind, bugs and grit,” Mrs Squibb said.
“They are foreign for a dog to wear but we have trained her to have them on.
“It’s like any training which is done by positive reinforcement and now she is not phased by them at all.”
Mrs Squibb said there had been negative comments made about Belle.
“It is the case with everything in the social media world but Belle’s safety and her welfare is our number one priority.”
The video has been viewed more than 860,000 times on an animal-spotting Facebook page and more than 2.8 million times on VT.
Mr and Mrs Squibb bought Belle planning to train her for the Mater’s pet therapy program to help with patients’ rehabilitation.
The program is affiliated with Thornlands-based Positive Response Dog Training.
Mrs Squibb said director Dee Scott had helped train Belle.
“They need to be able to walk quietly in the hospital and do things like reverse carefully of out small spaces,” she said. “It’s crucial that she’s a well behaved dog.”
Mrs Squibb said they worked with occupational therapists to help patients as a one-off or for months.
Patients can reach out to touch Belle, put clips on her fur and are encouraged to walk by taking her on a lead.
“The therapy dogs are used as part of physiotherapy and to reboot fine motor skills,” Mrs Squibb said.
“We have also started to work with women who are in hospital with long-term pregnancy complications. Pet therapy can get people into a better state of mind and decrease anxiety.”
Belle is one of four therapy dogs in the Mater program. They vary in breed and size and the dog used is dependent on patients’ needs.
The couple travel regularly with Belle and share her therapy work and experiences via Instagram under the name BabyBelleOz.
Belle’s fame is starting to spread and she was recognised during a visit to Mullumbimby on the weekend.
Mrs Squibb said they had been in touch with the person who posted the video.
“She didn’t realise that there would be such an interest in Belle and the video.”
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