Puppy power unleashed at the Ipswich Hospital

Registered Nurse Stephanie Lewis assists Ezmaye Watkin-Smith, 1, to pat a puppy held by Corporal Natasha Falconer at the Sunshine Ward, Ipswich Hospital.

Iron, Ippy, Ida, Isshi, Igloo, Ivy and Iris, bounded into the Ipswich Hospital to visit the young patients on the Children’s Sunshine Ward.

The new Air Force puppies will soon start training to become Military Working Dogs.

Air Force Security Military Working Dog Handler Corporal Natasha Falconer said they had asked the patients from the Sunshine Ward to name the new puppies.

Each litter of new puppies is given a letter from the alphabet to distinguish them from other litters. 

This litter of five boys and two girls was designated the letter ‘I’ so all the puppies names were required to begin with ‘I’.

“We asked the children last month to come up with the names so it was great to be able to come and show the children and reveal the puppies’ names,” Corporal Falconer said.

“I was born in this hospital, so it’s nice to see the children’s faces light up and bring a bit of joy to their day.”

Bryn, 2, and Dermod Kavanagh meet Corporal Natasha Falconer and one of the puppies. “He loved it, he really loves animals,” Mr Kavanagh said.

Orin Foord, 6, gives a puppy a lovely cuddle while Corporal Natasha Falconer holds him.

Children’s Sunshine Ward Nurse unit manager Kirsty Franklin, said it was a special treat for young patients, their families and staff to meet the pups from RAAF Base Amberley.

“It was clear the kids were ecstatic about meeting the bounding pups, and having the opportunity to name them was an added bonus,” Ms Franklin said.

“Nothing beats seeing big smiles on the little faces of those in our care.”

The next step for the puppies is to be fostered out in the community under a foster care program.

From eight to 12 weeks of age the puppies go out into the community on weekend home-stays.

Twelve weeks to seven months the dogs go into a full-time foster-care arrangement to socialise with families. They then head off to basic training.

Once trained, the Military Working Dogs will work closely with RAAF security handlers to provide security patrols, emergency response, intruder detection and apprehension on RAAF Bases and in deployed locations around the world.

For more information about joining the foster care program, email: [email protected] or phone 5361 3688.

Bound into Ipswich First

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