21 October 2019
The wonder of dogs – our Hallmark pets
Dogs are simply amazing and one of their biggest qualities is their ability to love unconditionally and without judgement, but did you know that dogs can be good for you?
Part of their brilliance is their ability to predict what’s going on with us and act accordingly. If they know we’re sad or unwell, they’ll sit quietly beside us giving comfort. If they sense we need a hug, well, get ready for one.
There is compelling evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that interacting with dogs can be beneficial to the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of all human beings. They can help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate and encourage social interaction.
The Alzheimer’s Society has discussed the positive impact that dogs can have on people living with dementia and how they can help to improve their quality of life. Dogs bring friendship and fun and, for people living with dementia, can help to prevent feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as reducing irritability, agitation and loneliness. Spending time with dogs has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve social interaction and sleep patterns.
Many Hallmark care homes have a dog that accompanies a member of the team to work, helping to provide companionship, build relationships and brighten up everyone’s day. Here are the dogs stories:
FACT FILE: Dillan, Anya Court
I came to Anya Court with Karen 5 years ago when she was working in the portacabin whilst the home was being built; she was worried about her being on her own in there. I naturally progressed into Anya Court when it was finished and Karen now has a desk, chair and computer in my office!
When residents are feeling a bit fed-up I always go up to them and give them a nudge to cheer them up. I also go for walks with Stan around the garden. Most of the residents and team members seem to love me but the children who come in to Songs & Smiles each week really adore me (possibly because they are more or less the same height as me). I have been told that I make Anya Court feel like a proper home as I just wander round saying ‘hi’ to everyone and seeing if they have any spare biscuits.
Talking of food, it’s blooming lovely here, especially the cakes & biscuits – I have also been known to partake in the odd sausage if there is one left after breakfast. Between you and me, I have to make sure I don’t get caught in the dining room as I am not allowed in there, but there are usually crumbs left over after meals and it would be rude not to hoover them up.
FACT FILE: Dougal, Admiral Court
I work at Admiral Court with Sarah the Lifestyles Lead and I have a sense of adventure! I’m a Maltese Terrier and most of the time they’re generally known to like to sit with people, have their tummies tickled and their hair brushed whilst watching the telly (sort of why I got the job)….I do like that but I also have my own passport and like to travel and try new things. (I also have my own caravan but that’s another story). I send postcards to all the residents when I’m abroad and show them my photographs when I return.
I go in to Admiral Court each day on a mission to make someone smile. I’ve been told that I have a great smile too. Sometimes there are people who are sad and I ask to sit by their chair and lean against their knee or they might pat the bed. If no one minds I jump up and lay down quietly. I usually get a little pat on the head, I might have 40 winks with them.
I know I have helped lots of people go into the garden – I’m good at that. One time I helped residents go on a big sponsored walk for dementia and another time I did the race for life with my good friends Flo and Pat, we were in the paper for raising awareness.
My favourite thing? A four-year old dried pig’s ear (special vintage). I have to sleep with it. I bury it under Sarah’s pillow every night, she throws it out of the bed, but I can’t sleep without it.
FACT FILE: Connie, Arlington Manor
My Mum is the Customer Relationship Manager at Arlington Manor, Lisa. I have lived with her for 3 months and I am only 6 months old! My Mum thought because I am so gentle and playful that I might want to be a PAT dog (Pets As Therapy) when I grow up so I started coming into work with her to get used to this great big home and meeting lots of new people. I love it so far but when I get tired or overwhelmed I take myself off to a nice comfy bed under my Mum’s desk and have a sleep or play with my toys.
My Mum says that when I come to work I’m a really good talking point and help the residents remember the pets they had when they were growing up. Everybody smiles when they see me and I really like sitting on people’s laps and getting fussed over, especially when they feel bit sad. I’m only little so I’m still working on my talents but I have got very good at fetch and sit. I love to collect socks and bring them to my Mum and sometimes I help to pull up the weeds in the garden, although she says they aren’t always weeds!
I try to get on with everyone in the home. Emily the Head Housekeeper really likes me coming to work because I help tidy up any dropped crumbs. One of my new friends in the team was having a really difficult time at home and was very upset when she came to work so we had a great big cuddle and I licked her face and made her laugh. I let her stroke me lots because my Mum said that there is lots of research to show that this can help to reduce blood pressure and release endorphins to help calm people down and make them feel better. I don’t really know what any of that means but I like being stroked so I was happy too.
My favourite song? The Puppy Song by Harry Nilsson
FACT FILE: Winnie, Greenhill Manor.
My name’s Winnie and I’m a dementia friend and so’s my Dad Mitch, the Customer Relationship Manager at Greenhill Manor in Wales.
I was born on a little farm in the Gower in April 2018. My mother was a working Cocker Spaniel and she had a beautiful, long golden coat. My father was the farmers wife’s pet and he lived indoors. When I was 13 weeks old, I met my new parents and moved to Aberfan with them.
I only work part-time with my Dad, a couple of days a week. I think I’m very suited to my role – Cockerpoos have a wild and adventurous side but we also like to “cwtch in” and relax with people (well I do anyway). I enjoy sitting with my friend Bryan in the café greeting people as they come and go and I love to go for walks to the train station with Idris to meet his wife off the train. I also love sitting on Lisa or Pat’s lap. My friends who live at the home have introduced me to their families and I go and sit with them most days. There’s Wendy, Dwynwen and Susan who are all as excited to see me, as I am to see them.
I am a big music fan and I really like “I Love My Dog” by Cat Stevens because my Dad sings it to me. Cat Stevens sings about a boy dog but my Dad changes it to suit me!
FACT FILE: Ted, Ty Enfys
I’m Ted, and I really came into my own on Hug Day at Ty Enfys Care Home in Wales. I was born to a long line of champion bichon fries and Shih-Tzus in Carmarthen.
My human mother, who I adore, has taught me many things and I can ‘sit’ in three different languages. I am fascinated by humans and love the joy I bring them. My day at Ty Enfys starts by going for the morning rounds, checking the communities, meeting and greeting the team, residents, visitors and any professionals. I am definitely some of the resident’s favourite team member and they keep treats for me, usually from their breakfast. I am really empathetic towards the residents and I also like to meet and greet and my favourite hot desk is the reception desk, where I help Claire answer the phone. I also play a big part in the interview process and go and sit near the person I can sense is the most anxious.
I used to be very good at sneaking into the dining room where my friends would feed me under the table. I was getting fatter and fatter. Sometimes the nurses do put me on the scales. I have been restricted and am not allowed to go into the dining room but I have made some faithful friends who save me the sausages in their handbags!
Recently, I was runner up in the Ty Enfys Talent Show for Hallmark’s Got Talent! I am quite the whiz kid and can sit, stand, lie down and spin provided I get a sausage! Sausages are my weakness and if you have one, I will be your best friend.
Sometimes I don’t understand what everybody is talking about but I can sense people’s feelings. I know when residents, families or team members need my support and I become sad when people reach the end of their life. I sit outside their room or at the foot of their bed (with permission of course). I also hate the fire alarm.
I like all music and my favourite activity is ‘Singing with Stella’ on a Tuesday morning. Our volunteer plays the piano to old time music hall songs and I will sometimes dance in the middle…for a sausage of course.
My hobbies? Outside of work, I just simply love to run! After I have finished my shift, my mum takes me to a huge field and I run for as far and as long as my little legs will take me. Also I have got a girlfriend called Ivy. She is a huge husky and she keeps me on my toes and in check.
Click here to find your nearest Hallmark care home.