We all need a helping hand in our lives at times – those friends, family and carers who can give us the support we need to live well – but what if that was a helping paw instead?
Opportunity to apply for a dementia assistance dog
Dementia Dog are welcoming enquiries from people living throughout central Scotland, who are living with a diagnosis of dementia and are still living at home with a full-time carer with a good level of daily routine and independence. Ideally the person would have recently received a diagnosis of dementia or else be in the early stages of dementia. The applicant doesn’t need to have previously owned a dog in order to apply and these dogs are provided completely free of charge with all support and training provided through the Dementia Dog project team.
Lenny and Hope – two very talented, hard-working and friendly Labradors – will soon be ready to place and are now looking for their forever homes! They are looking for a home that would have a fenced garden and people who love dogs.
How can dementia assistance dogs help?
As with all assistance dog work, it is important to match the right dog with the right person. We also work to match Lenny and Hope’s skills with the support required, ensuring a happy bond and a lasting partnership is established. Once this match has been identified, our team will then tailor each dog’s advanced skills to meet the individual needs of the people they will go on to be placed with.
The proof of the health benefits of pets and assistance dogs has been well evidenced – recognised as reducing anxiety and creating wellbeing. They have learned to carry out an array of vital tasks for people living with dementia, from retrieving medication to helping wake someone up and get dressed. They can open and close doors, can prompt to alert and remind, and provide companionship. Both Lenny and Hope are trained to walk on a harnessed dual lead, encouraging exercise and getting people out in their community.
These very specialist assistance dogs have been making a difference to those living with dementia since 2012. We have seen how the dogs can hugely boost confidence and independence for the couple they are placed with, helping to reduce social isolation and providing the person living with dementia a renewed sense of purpose.
One couple talked about one of the pioneer dogs, Kaspa, who came into their lives after diagnosis – which was described as a ‘dark hole’. Glenys, wife and carer to her husband Ken says
“Kaspa has given our lives back. Ken is never alone now”
Project manager Fiona Corner says “It is wonderful to see the myriad of benefits that these dogs can have for the people we support who have received a dementia assistance dog. We are now keen to hear from other families who would like to apply for one of these specially trained dogs.”
What goes into making a dementia assistance dog so special?
Each assistance dog undergoes two years of dedicated training, learning skills to help reinforce routines at home, being a social connector out in the community and an emotional anchor for someone living with dementia and their carer. The dogs commence their training at just 8 weeks old, spending their first year of socialisation and early training at Dogs for Good’s charity base in Oxfordshire, before travelling up to the Dementia Dog team in Scotland to complete the final stages of their advanced training.
Their training is completed with the help of inmates at the project’s operational base at HMP Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee, enabling men in custody to develop employability skills and build a non-criminal identity. This helps to reduce risks of future re-offending, while also making a significant contribution back into society through the provision of trained dementia assistance dogs.
Over the next few years, thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust, the Dementia Dog team will be placing a further five trained dementia assistance dogs.
Applying for a dementia assistance dog
If you are a person either recently diagnosed or early stages of dementia, living with your full-time carer in central Scotland area, have an enclosed garden and love dogs – you can register your interest.
Please contact the Dementia Dog Project team at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an Enquiry Form.
Dementia Advisor – East Dunbartonshire