Sick kids get special visit from the puppies they named
BEFORE they embark on their journey to become military working dogs, seven little puppies paid a special visit to the brave young children who gave them their names.
The Indigo 6 litter, who call the RAAF Base Amberley home, checked in to the Children's Sunshine Ward at the Ipswich Hospital today.
Airforce units usually pick the names but the ward's staff and patients were approached a month ago to christen the pups.
The 12-week-old purebred Belgian Shepherd Malinois puppies are part of the RAAF Working Dog Program and will be shipped to bases around the country once they graduate.
They will work closely with RAAF security handlers to provide security patrols, emergency response, intruder detection and apprehension.
The puppies were given the names Ivy, Iris, Iron, Ippy, Ida, Isshi and Igloo.
For military working dog handler Corporal Natasha Falconer, it was a special way to return to the place where she was born.
She runs the breeding facility at the Amberley base, which produces between 50 and 60 puppies a year.
"We thought it would be a good opportunity and a different way to give back to the community by involving the kids at the Ipswich Hospital," she said.
"They all look pretty happy and I think they're all enjoying getting hugs and kisses from the puppies."
The ward's nurse unit manager Kirsty Franklin said it was a special treat for everyone involved in the process.
"It's a really amazing experience because being in hospital is not always fun, it's definitely overwhelming for families because they're away from their normal environment," she said.
"Naming the puppies really brought some joy to our patients. The kids have loved it. It's really lovely to use as a form of distraction for our kids.
"Nothing beats seeing big smiles on the little faces of those in our care."
The training program for a military working dog starts when they turn six-weeks-old.
At them moment the Indigo 6 litter are playing fetch, learning basic positions like sit and socialising.
"It's a really important part of the program for them to be exposed to as much as possible," Cpl Falconer said.
"(They start) bite training from six weeks of age... they're running over different surfaces and different obstacles. It's really important once they become adult military working dogs.
"(It's important) to get them to experience new environments and new things so they learn they can overcome everything."