Rescue greyhounds are helping to chase the blues away at Glenfield’s Whiddon aged care facility.
The three rescue hounds from Camden’s Greyhound Rescue began visiting Whiddon at the start of October (Mental Health Month) to give residents a new reason to smile.
Whiddon resident Gail Holder, 66, said she loved getting to spend time with Freddie the greyhound and his owner Beverly Gibbons.
“I needed to be here,” she said.
“When I first came here there was no life in me whatsoever but the care of Whiddon and visits with the dogs over three years has gotten me here.
“When the dogs visit it just releases all that tension and emotion – you don’t realise how much it helps until after they leave.
“The freedom of being able to give pats and cuddles is wonderful.
“The love they give is unconditional.
“I love it when they come back because I just get to relax.”
Ms Holder said she would love to see dogs visiting other facilities across the country.
“I suffer with bad nerves and this totally relaxes me – I am still relaxed for hours afterwards,” she said.
“If they can help me, they can help anyone.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Whiddon and the dogs.”
Ms Gibbons adopted Freddie from Greyhound Rescue earlier this year.
Freddie passed his Greenhound test on the first go, which means he doesn’t need to wear a muzzle when not at home.
“We visit folk in the common room at Easton Park at Whiddon,” the Currans Hill resident said.
“I was asked if we could visit more often because when Freddie arrives it’s smiles all round.
“No-one has to bend to pat him and like most greyhounds, he doesn’t jump on people.
“He’s also not a tripping hazard which small dogs can be for the elderly.”
Ms Gibbons is often joined by Laura Clutterbuck and her rescue greyhounds and certified Delta Dogs, Pip and Tiger.
“Delta Dogs and their owners brighten the lives of an estimated 20,000 Australians in care facilities every week,” the Narellan resident said.
“With Pip and Tiger, I’ve been visiting every fortnight for over four years.
“We go to the high care ward. The dogs are so uplifting to the residents, staff and families visiting their loved ones.”
Whiddon’s Easton Park director of care services Rachael Ellender said pet therapy brought many benefits for residents and could help to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
“Having pets in our care homes can help our residents feel less lonely,” she said.
“It fosters companionship and helps to start conversations about sharing stories of pets they’ve owned in the past.
“Stroking a pet can be very calming and can help boost morale. They really bring a lot of joy.”
To find out more about volunteering, adopting or fostering a greyhound, visit: greyhoundrescue.com.au.