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Pets providing a new lease of life

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

A COALISLAND Care Home is offering up a very special activity for it's canine-loving residents.

Many of Ashbrook Care Home's residents grew and indeed lived most of their adult life surrounded by dogs and now they have the chance to relive those memories as one very special dog, and her owner, visits every other Monday.

Bagheera and his owner Margorzata Puczylowska (Margaret) visit Ashbrook as part of the charity Pets as Therapy.

Founded in 1983 by Lesley Scott-Ordish, the charity aims to enhance the health and wellbeing of residents throughout the community with regular therapeutic visits.

The visits are proving very popular at Ashbrook and as its Activity Co-Ordinator explains it is often one of the highlights of the residents' week.

"Residents get a lot out of this. There are people who can not get involved in the many other activities we do offer, but they really enjoy helping the dog," she said.

"When the dog comes in here, it really helps lift the mood. When they know it is coming their faces glow with happiness. At first I was a bit nervous about how the dog would react, but she is very found of the residents and they are very found of her."

"I believe we are the only place in this area to offer this type of programme in the area. The owner of the Home, Seamus Mulgrew, asked me to get pet therapy set up in here and it started in March."

One of the residents, Bridget McCauley said: "I look forward to it; it really makes me happy to see the dog. My son has sponsored a dog and to think it could become a dog like Bagheera is just wonderful."

The dog's owner Margaret explained that whilst it a wonderful thing that brings joy to a lot of people, not all dogs are suitable candidates.

"A lot of people have dogs at home and they think they will be able to bring them in, but it is important to assess a dog's behaviour first, not every dog is as calm as Bagheera.

"For a dog to be a therapy dog they have to go through a test and be assessed by an independent person to see if the dog is able to do it or not."

To get involved in dog therapy visit www.petsastheraphy.org

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