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Pets as Therapy

sinkhole

Registered User
Jan 28, 2015
273
Pets as Therapy seems to be the most popular therapy dog service, but it seems they only make visits to care homes and hospitals, not private homes.

Mum would love to have a dog but ownership is impossible so I'm looking into a visiting therapy dog. I know she's likely to confuse a visiting dog with a permanent dog and we'll have some difficult times when it comes for the dog to leave after each visit but I'm sure the benefits will outweigh the difficulties. She really needs things to look forward to now.

Are there any other dementia friendly therapy pet organisations who will visit private homes and are experienced with the challenges of dementia?
 

Wifenotcarer

Registered User
Mar 11, 2018
309
Central Scotland
I swithered, changed my mind and back again but eventually bought a 'companion pet' - a ginger kitten - for OH. OH sort of knows it is not real, but has taken to it and spends time brushing and stroking it or simply watching it breath. It seems to calm him. He has been asleep in his chair with Kitty tucked in beside him and I have heard him murmuring to it.

I think I have judged it just right to introduce this 'pet' - a few months ago he would have dismissed it as silly, a few months further on I suspect he would not have understood its purpose at all.
 

sinkhole

Registered User
Jan 28, 2015
273
The 'life like' pets have been suggested to me but knowing my mum this isn't going to be a substitute for her, at least at this stage. I do agree that the timing is probably the key thing with these 'companion pets'.

I'll keep looking for organisations who could arrange visits, as this is what she has her heart set on and I do think it would really help her whole outlook on life right now.
 

nitram

Registered User
Apr 6, 2011
20,870
North Manchester
Pets as Therapy seems to be the most popular therapy dog service, but it seems they only make visits to care homes and hospitals, not private homes.
They also visit groups. dementia cafés, singing for the brain, day care centres,....

You could try and find out from pets as therapy what local visits are planned and see if there is one that your Mum could attend, it could end up with a regular outing for her even without the pets.
 

sinkhole

Registered User
Jan 28, 2015
273
Yes, that's a good suggestion. We need to get her out of the house more and that could be a good reason.
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,287
My mother loves all furry animals, she had her own cat when she was still at home but loved to go out to the local park with the carer to make a fuss of all the dogs walking by. Don't know if your mum is mobile enough to do that, but my mum found it very cheering. Mum is now in a care home and a large collection of cuddly toys fulfil the furry animal role.
 

northumbrian_k

Registered User
Mar 2, 2017
1,038
Newcastle
My wife would not admit it but I find it significant that the dog's squeaky chipmunk is often to be found where she has been sitting. That is just a cheap toy. The chances are that a more realistic (but still inanimate) animal might be a good solution avoiding the trauma of parting with a live animal after each visit.
 

maryjoan

Registered User
Mar 25, 2017
1,441
South of the Border
I have a good friend who has a dog - Flash the Dog - and she brings him round every few days to say hello. My OH does not seem overly impressed with Flash the Dog, but it really does me good to spend a bit of time with my canine friend and his Mrs.
Flash the Dog is a sheepdog, who was a working dog, until my friend's husband had a stroke, and the farm had to go, so as a young dog, Flash learned to be a house dog, and a companion to his poorly master and Mrs.
 

sinkhole

Registered User
Jan 28, 2015
273
My mother loves all furry animals, she had her own cat when she was still at home but loved to go out to the local park with the carer to make a fuss of all the dogs walking by. Don't know if your mum is mobile enough to do that, but my mum found it very cheering. Mum is now in a care home and a large collection of cuddly toys fulfil the furry animal role.
The carers do take her out in a wheelchair and she has been able to stroke dogs they've met on the way and enjoyed that.

I am not having any luck finding a therapy dog organisation who make private home visits. Maybe it's an insurance issue?

I think I'm stuck between the promise of occasional contact with passing dogs when she's out or the permanent 'fake' dog and I'm not sure either will satisfy her current craving! I'll have to talk it over with her tomorrow but if anyone has heard of a service which can visit private homes, please let me know!
 

jenniferjean

Registered User
Apr 2, 2016
760
Basingstoke, Hampshire
Pets as Therapy seems to be the most popular therapy dog service, but it seems they only make visits to care homes and hospitals, not private homes.

Mum would love to have a dog but ownership is impossible so I'm looking into a visiting therapy dog. I know she's likely to confuse a visiting dog with a permanent dog and we'll have some difficult times when it comes for the dog to leave after each visit but I'm sure the benefits will outweigh the difficulties. She really needs things to look forward to now.

Are there any other dementia friendly therapy pet organisations who will visit private homes and are experienced with the challenges of dementia?
I believe Therapy Dogs International do home visits, but I don't know which areas they cover.
 

jenniferjean

Registered User
Apr 2, 2016
760
Basingstoke, Hampshire
Just U.S. and Canada it seems. My Mum's in SE England.
Sorry I didn't realise they were across the pond. That's a failing of mine, I just assume it's England unless they speak out loud.
How about having a word with a local vet and see if they know of someone who would be able to help. I suppose you have to be careful of who you invite into one's home. There must be a simple solution somewhere, it seems such a simple thing.
 

B72

Registered User
Jul 21, 2018
132
I used to have a Pat Dog. You’re told not to undertake private visits. I don’t know why. When a friend’s mother had dementia, I used to take my dog over. They both loved it. Why not try a local church? They may have a member who would come in sometimes with their pet. It doesn’t need to be a registered Pat dog - just a well behaved pet, if you’re happy with that.
 

sinkhole

Registered User
Jan 28, 2015
273
I think the problem must be to do with insurance and/or health and safety (risk assessments etc.).
I do think whoever comes to visit with a dog needs to be trained in some way or certainly have some experience visiting a PWD. I won;t be able to be there for every visit so I need to be sure the visit and conversations will be handled correctly, or it could cause more trouble that it's worth.

Also, I need to think of the carers and make sure they are not exposed to any risks or become involved in situations they are not equipped to deal with. I'm not being over-cautious, just careful that I don't open a can of worms!

I have now found a link to animaldaysout.com who claim to offer home visits, so I'll call them tomorrow and see what they say.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far though!
 

Amethyst59

Registered User
Jul 3, 2017
5,749
Kent
It might be worth following up the church suggestion above. I’ve recently acquired a puppy and take her in to my husband’s care home. It has really surprised me that people who I thought were unresponsive ,,(and I feel bad now for thinking that) have lifted heads, smiled, reached out for her. There is one lady who is frightened of her, so I’m really careful to never let the puppy near her, but the overwhelming response has been positive.
 

B72

Registered User
Jul 21, 2018
132
I don’t think it’s sensible for someone to visit without you or responsible person there. That, of course, is the difference with taking a PAT dog into a home. I think you’ve Put your finger on why PAT dog owners are told not to. I definitely don’t think someone should take on that responsibility. Sorry.
 
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sinkhole

Registered User
Jan 28, 2015
273
I don’t think it’s sensible for someone to visit without you or responsible person there. That, of course, is the difference with taking a PAT dog into a home. I think you’ve Put your finger on why PAT dog owners are told not to. I definitely don’t think someone should take on that responsibility. Sorry.
I have yet to meet the live-in carers, but I would expect them to be responsible enough to handle a visit, assuming the dog owner has had some training and experience them self.

In any case, it's something I will need to speak to the care agency about before arranging anything, so I'll see what they say.
 

NellieP

Registered User
Feb 26, 2018
12
Hi,
I don't know of anyone who has done this but I know that some dogs homes have volunteers to play with/ walk the dogs while they are waiting for a new home. Could you contact a local one and explain the situation and ask if she could make a regular visit to see the dogs? As far as I understand its the older dogs and calmer ones like greyhounds that don't rehome so easily but are likely to appreciate gentle contact from an older person?
Good luck.