Project helping elderly connect with pets
A pilot programme by Aged Concern is bringing friendly dogs to the elderly, to great success.
Age Connect coordinator Breffni O’Rourke first began PetConnect in January, helping find volunteer dogs to come along to Age Concern Tea and Talk events.
The first PetConnect took place on January 17th, and was a roaring success.
‘‘Many older people are forced to give up their pets when they move into smaller accommodations,’’ O’Rourke said.
‘‘But they miss them, so we’re helping willing volunteers share the love.’’
She said PetConnect was ‘‘about connecting older people with the unconditional love of animals’’.
O’Rourke made a facebook page and made an open invitation for dog-owners to volunteer their pets and their time for a visit.
‘‘I was hoping to get maybe six dogs. I think we got about 60,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s got so big so fast.’’ On Monday PetConnect had its first outing to a residential home, bringing dogs Taco, Mabel, Monty, and Dash to The Wood Retirement Village for an hourlong visit.
Resident Anne Brooks said she thought the programme was ‘‘fantastic’’.
‘‘We asked to have pet visits,’’ she said.
Brooks said having the dogs visit helped to feel more connected to the world.
‘‘You can get a little bit isolated, tucked in here.’’
Most of the residents either used to have dogs, or had dogs living with family off-site, and they loved getting the opportunity to interact with the obliging dog volunteers.
A spokesperson for The Wood Retirement Village said the visits would ‘‘definitely’’ carry on.
O’Rourke said the programme was already getting too big for the number of volunteers they had, and she was looking for more people willing to help out.
Rosie Seek, left, with her dog Taco and Lina Cunningham at the first PetConnect event at the Wood Retirement Village.