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Greyhounds giving Hunter’s aged a reason to smile

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Rescued greyhounds are giving the Hunter’s elderly a reason to smile.

In an Australian-first pilot program, the distinctive dogs are being used to improve the quality of life for aged care residents across the region, including those living with dementia.

Renowned for their speed and agility, the British breed is fast-making a name for itself as a calming, caring creature.

The program, called Hounds Helping Humans, is a partnership between HammondCare and Greyhound Rescue.

It follows other animal engagement programs with seniors that have been found to decrease loneliness and depression, increase physical activity and improve socialisation.

HammondCare senior research fellow, Professor Susan Kurrle, says a big advantage greyhounds have over other breeds is their height, with an older person able to be eye level with them without bending down.

“Dogs can have a wonderful, calming effect for someone with dementia. I have seen how quickly they can calm agitation,” she said.

HammondCare CEO Mike Baird

HammondCare CEO Mike Baird says the pilot program was already seeing positive effects.

“Meaningful involvement with everyday life is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing,” he said. 

“I am delighted that one part of this Life Engagement Pilot is evaluating how animal engagement and support can improve quality of life for residents.”

“What a wonderful outcome if rescued greyhounds can be given a new purpose providing happiness for those who are older in the community.”

Greyhound Rescue president Nat Panzarino said her dogs were already proving to be good candidates to assist with the new role – generally calm in nature and tall enough to be accessible to people who are in wheelchairs or confined to beds.

“At Greyhound Rescue we know all too well the magic that these incredible hounds can bring to people’s lives,” she said. 

“What better way to share this magic with more people than bringing greyhounds to where they are really needed – to brighten the lives of people who are craving connection and companionship.”

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