A furry good reason to paws for a visit from a very special friend
Ask anyone who’s had a visit from Caring Canines and they’ll confirm that dogs really are man’s best friend. This brilliant, self-funded service arranges visits to care homes by four-legged friends that give residents a bit of mood-boosting company. Aware of the huge benefits that come from being in the presence of a gentle dog, Sue Dennett and her friend, Julie Lankshear decided to set up a small, dedicated group of local owners and pets who could visit care homes in Dorset.
That was in 2006 and what started as a small-scale ‘something to do’ in their Stella and Max A furry good reason to paws for a visit from a very special friend spare time is now a fulltime concern, run from their homes and something they just really love doing. This is reflected in Caring Canines achieving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
“It’s so rewarding,” says Sue. “Dogs open up all sorts of communications channels. It’s amazing, even people who are quite poorly respond on seeing them. They open up a whole new world.” The pandemic has been particularly harsh on care homes, so the return of this service is incredibly important.
“We’ve come back from a ghastly two years and are needed more than ever, so we are recruiting.” she says. “We need dogs – and their owners – who can join us for a set amount of time a week, month, whatever, to help.” Sue adds: “It’s so rewarding but like many small organisations we are struggling back to normality and having more members to spread our special doggy magic would be wonderful.” So, what sort of dogs are they looking for? “It’s all about the temperament,” says Sue. Regardless of breed, size, whatever, it’s all about the dog. Are they gentle when taking titbits? Well-behaved? Confident? Gentle? “They do need to be at least 10 months old, and need to live within 15 miles of Bournemouth, but otherwise, a good temperament is everything.” Caring Canines is a completely free service which runs on a tiny budget, so a ‘thank you’ donation is always welcome.
The dogs are particularly beneficial for people with dementia but everyone benefits from a stroke and a pally paw. Sue says: “I think the photo of Stella and Max says it all. Caring Canines are known as the ‘Happiness Dogs’ and we always say ‘a smile makes it all worthwhile’.”
To volunteer or find out more contact Sue Dennett on 01202 764571 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Lorraine Gibson