As part of an outreach event with Age UK Camden, two dogs from the Mayhew Animal Home's TheraPaws programme took a trip to visit older people, some of whom have dementia.
Volunteers Deborah Taffler and her dog Noodle and Ilonka Scaman and her dog BenJecky spent some valuable time at the Great Croft Resource Centre in Camden, London, which offers over 60's a variety of services and activities.
The TheraPaws programme, which was recently nominated for an Animal Hero Award, recognises the mutual benefits of animals engaging with older people. As well as enhancing people's lives by helping to reduce social isolation, stress and unlocking memories and emotions, the initiative also promotes respect and compassion towards animals.
Irene Robinson, who attends the Age UK Camden resource centre, said, "I’m 92 years old and all my life I’ve always had dogs or been surrounded by dogs.
"It’s been lovely to have them here today, being able to cuddle them. It has definitely brightened up my day."
The volunteers, who regularly visit care homes, day centres, hospices and hospitals with their dogs, witnessed first-hand the positive impact it had as eyes lit up when they entered the room.
Antonio D’Este, Age UK Day Care Manager, said, "I first heard about TheraPaws through The Mayhew Animal Home’s open day in June. I thought this was a great initiative to introduce to our Age UK groups.
"It’s so lovely to see the dogs interacting with people, and it gets them talking about pets that they had in the past. It’s wonderful to see their reactions when they enter the room – their faces instantly light up."
Luke Berman, Project Manager, TheraPaws, said, "It was a terrific day. The volunteers and their dogs really enjoyed interacting with so many different people. It’s clear to see that our dogs bring a lot of joy and wellbeing to people."
To find out more about TheraPaws, visit www.themayhew.org/therapaws or call 020 8962 8004.