Adding to this. A quote from Colleen,
“ I get so much out seeing the older people interacting with the dogs and also interacting with each other. The dogs relax them and they start communicating with other people.” I just love it “
This is how local resident, Colleen Gifford describes her response being involved wih Canine Pet therapy. Canine Friends Pet Therapy Inc. is a national organisation of volunteers who share the company of their well-behaved dogs with residents in rest homes, patients in hospitals and hospices. Spread over thirty regions, the members of Canne Pet therapy Incoprorated visit 409 rest homes, 19 hospitals, and 12 hospices.
Respected Lower Hutt dog breeder, Eileen Curry started Canine Friends Pet Therapy with a group of like-minded friends in 1990. She was working with the SPCA when she witnessed a distressing incident that was the catalyst for Canine Friends. An elderly woman was going into care and she could not take her beloved dog with her, nor did she have any family to take the dog. Eileen was very moved at witnessing the owner’s despair at parting with her dog that she offered to visit the woman with one of her own dogs. She quickly realised this could be a service that would bring comfort to many people... especially the elderly and those who feel isolated, stressed and afraid. This was the start of this wonderful work that local resident and coordinator ,Colleen, now espouses and supports.
Eileen Curry has since been awarded a Hutt City Civic Award for her service to the community.
Canine Friends Pet Therapy Inc. is now a nationwide and respected charity with 664 members who are informed, caring dog owners. Our members are volunteers who invest in animal welfare issues and Canine Friend’s principal goal of sharing their well behaved, cherished family pets with those who are unable to have a dog of their own. These volunteers understand the value of pet therapy and enjoy seeing the benefits to those they visit in rest homes, hospitals and hospices. Naturally, the dogs are all shapes and sizes, pedigree and mixed breeds and prior to acceptance are assessed by an experienced assessor.
Canine Friends Pet Therapy represents empathy, compassion, credibility, integrity and respect for people. Research shows that simply patting a dog can reduce stress levels, calm a racing heart and help lower blood pressure. Memories of loved pets and happier times return and the emphasis shifts from feeling unwell or lonely. A dog creates friendships, breaks down barriers and provides a kind distraction during anxious moments helping people feel reconnected to the world.
We have members visiting Intensive Care Units in several hospitals. The staff say they often see visible changes in a patient’s mood which is very beneficial for their recovery. The visits are a huge morale boost and a positive effect for both staff and patients.
Some members have been visiting universities and colleges for several years; we are experiencing an increasing number of invitations to attend these facilities particularly at examination time to alleviate stress to students and examiners alike. We also participate in Reading Programmes at libraries and schools where the calming influence of dogs see them act as “reading buddies” for children with reading difficulties.
Corporates are realising the benefits to their staff that come from a Canine Friends visit, the dogs being a welcome diversion in fast-paced, pressured working environments.
We have entered the fifth year of our partnership with NZ pet food company Ziwi which has provided support across several areas of our operations.
We greatly appreciate the five year partnership we are enjoying with Dogs New Zealand. This enables us to train our regional liaison officers and gives us access to New Zealand’s “dog” community through monthly features in their widely read publication New Zealand Dog World. This regular exposure over time has raised the awareness of the value of pet therapy and has increased the number of applications from dog-savvy people who want to share their lovely dogs with others less fortunate.
To enable our organisation to extend our reach into communities, in April 2018 we entered into a Sponsorship Agreement with New Zealand owned premium pet food company Ziwi. We gave careful consideration to our choice of sponsorship partner, appointing Ziwi because our values align. This sponsorship enables Canine Friends to enjoy unencumbered growth and to enhance our work by providing support and appreciation to our volunteers. We are now also able to send our quarterly newsletter to all facilities we visit.
If you would like to know more,check the website: www.caninefriends.org.nz