After dedicating several years to helping older people through the Mayhew Animal Home's TheraPaws programme, 13-year-old Finn is ready to enjoy his retirement.
The loving and lively Staffie-cross and his proud owner Caroline Ryan had been visiting Lawnfield House Care Home in Willesden and joined Annie Walker, a TheraPaws volunteers at St Mungo’s homelessness charity, for nearly four years.
Throughout that time, Finn brought comfort and joy to the residents and can now enjoy a well earned break. The initiative recognises the mutual benefits of animals engaging with older people, particularly with dementia, improving relationships between humans and dogs. As well as enhancing people’s lives by helping to reduce social isolation, stress and unlocking memories and emotions, the initiative also helps animals by raising awareness of the positive effects dogs can have, including promoting respect and compassion towards animals.
Caroline applied to join the animal therapy programme because she wanted to enjoy Finn, who she rescued as a puppy, in the company of people who could benefit from his loving nature. Caroline says, "I really believe The Mayhew’s TheraPaws Project is just amazing as it enriches so many lives – the visited and the visitors alike! Contact with animals can bring so much simple, yet profound pleasure."
Finn rose to the challenge and thrived on being the centre of attention. On his first care home visit, Finn was excitable and bouncy, but it only took a few visits for Caroline to master pacing him around vulnerable people. She discovered how treats made his visits more interactive and Finn’s apple and carrot treats soon became a big talking point.
Annie adds, "It’s been a marvellous four years. I have met some wonderful people and made some good friends. I hope to still be involved in some way, but Finn who has been the perfect TheraPaws dog is having a well-earned retirement."
To find out more about TheraPaws, visit their website.