A special, four-legged visitor has brought a great feeling of joy to people with dementia.

Five-year-old greyhound, Bella, visited Newcastle-based Dementia Care’s Brunswick Village day care centre, with owner, Lizzie Cowell, to meet around 30 of people attending the centre.

And her short visit made such an impact that she has already been invited back.

Bella is one of 45 dogs and their owners who volunteer with new North East based charity Wag and Company North East Friendship Dogs – enabling visiting dog teams to build meaningful new friendships with older dog lovers across the North East of England to bring them the pleasure and therapeutic benefits of contact with pets.

“The effect she had was marvellous,” said Dementia Care’s best practice specialist worker, Rachel Fox. “Even people who don’t normally join in with activities, reached out to stroke her.

“Some just found her soothing and, for others, she brought back memories of dogs they had owned.

“Bella brought a visible sense of wellbeing to everyone in the centre and that positive feeling stayed that way long after she had left.”

Dementia Care, which offers a range of services to those living with dementia, has now arranged for Bella to visit each week.

Diane Morton, Director of Wag and Company’s said: “Bella is a lovely, gentle dog who easily passed our temperament assessment. It’s very touching to see how people respond to her and to all our dogs – very often, dogs are able to reach people in a way that their fellow humans often can’t.  In fact, when my own father had vascular dementia he didn’t know me or how to use everyday things like a spoon or a comb but he knew our Labrador Harry by name and he instinctively knew what to do with a silky head on his knee.”

For further information about Dementia Care and the services it provides or to make a donation, call 0191 217 1323 or visit www.dementiacare.org.uk.  To consider volunteering for Wag and Company just look at their website: www.wagandcompany.co.uk