Residents of The Dunes in Redcar are being treated to visits from Artie the German Shepherd Dog and his family.
Artie is a therapy dog, who has been visiting the extra care facility on Low Farm Drive every fortnight since July. Therapy dogs provide stimulation and comfort to older people. Spending time with animals has proven positive effects, helping to lower blood pressure and to increase serotonin levels, making people feel happier.
A chance meeting at Roseberry Square shops, led one of the carers at The Dunes to invite Tony and Ellie Vernalls to visit residents. The visits are delivered by Wag & Co, North East Friendship Dogs, a company set up to help tackle loneliness in the elderly.
Charis Gracie, Beyond Housing Supported Living Coordinator, said: “We notice that the mood of the tenants lifts when the dog is in and they are all smiling and happy.
“We even had a sing song on the first visit. Many tenants have previously owned dogs before coming here or had regular contact with family owned dogs, so having Artie come in is great for them.”
Visits are proving popular with residents, with 15-20 attending each session. Occasionally, Artie takes his partner and two children along, although he is the member of his family who is a trained therapy dog.