When Cissy retired in April 2021 she had no idea that a mini-ball of fluffiness named Lexi would have such an incredibly positive impact on her life.
Cissy spent the 10 years prior to her retirement working at the Wills Domain Winery in Yallinup, Margaret River, and had enjoyed her many roles in this family-owned business. As she mulled over what to do with her free time, she remembers thinking,
“I had no idea really, I just wanted to volunteer”.
One day while she was out and about in Busselton, she saw a lady coming towards her wearing a bright red T-shirt and walking a dog. As the lady drew closer Cissy realised the t-shirt had the word ‘POOPS’ on it. Once they got chatting, the lady named Cathy explained it stood for Pets of Older Persons and that she was one of many volunteer dog walkers in the area. This sounded perfect to Cissy who loves animals, having a 17-year-old Chihuahua named Sasha of her own at the time.
Soon after joining POOPS, she was introduced to a shy little dog named Lexi, whose owner had contacted the not-for-profit due to health issues. Not only was Lexi’s owner confined to her bed as a result of these issues, but she also needed to go to hospital from time to time. On one occasion when Cissy had offered to look after Lexi as well as take her owner home from hospital, Lexi’s owner said something unexpected.
Cissy remembers, “I picked her up from hospital. I said do you want me to bring Lexi back and she said no, hang on to her for a while. I’d still go around and see her, because she needed company. I kept on asking and she said, look I think she’s so much better off with you.”
Knowing what a difficult decision this was for Lexi’s owner, Cissy let her think on it for a while. Truth be told,Cissy was going through a sad chapter in her life, as her sweet Sasha had passed away a few months prior, and taking on a new dog so soon would be a huge commitment. But deep down they both knew this was best for Lexi, and in February 2021 Lexi came to live with Cissy full time.
Like any new dog owner, Cissy wondered would this new arrangement work out. Would shy little Lexi be happy in her new home? What strange habits did they both have that could get on each other’s nerves? Luckily it didn’t take long to find out. Lexi settled into her new home amazingly well, and Cissy realised it was the right decision.
“Lexi came into my life at the right time because I had to say goodbye to my little Sasha. I had this huge void and she filled that void big time.”
On some of their daily walks they would take the route past Cape Care, an aged-care village in Busselton. When passing residents out with their carers, Lexi would get super excited to say hello. As Cissy watched, it was clear this sweet interaction was brightening up their day, and she had an idea “I thought I could make something of this and ‘share’ her around”.
Cissy contacted Cape Care, who were delighted at the idea of having Lexi come into the village to visit residents, which is now part of their weekly routine.
“We’re now on a regular Thursday afternoon for an hour or two. I get a list of people who would like to see her and we go around and knock on their door and say, would you like to see her and they say oh yes please, oh you’ve made my day”.
The pair never leave without visiting the common room and saying hello to the staff who are also quite smitten with Lexi.
This once shy, quiet little dog, has found a new leash of life. Cissy says, “She’ll be 10 next February, but she’s like a 9-month-old. She’s just so full of energy”.
Not only does Lexi bring joy to the residents and staff at Cape Care every week, she has also made a huge impact on one of her four legged POOPS friends, Mitzi, who had previously been attacked and as a result was petrified and not easy to walk. Cissy had another idea, and thought that maybe Mitzi needed some support on her walk and started walking Lexi and Mitzi at the same time. Now she reports they both walk beautifully together!
When Cissy reflects on how happy this once shy little dog is now, she also becomes aware of the enjoyment she too gets from having her in her life.
“I get so much joy out of POOPS. It’s been very fulfilling for me and also with Capecare. I get just as much out of it as Lexi does. To see the smiles on people’s faces is very rewarding.”