Harbourside Lodge Pet Therapy Program

Narelle Cannon with Alfie the Dog
Wednesday, 19 July 2017
What’s it all about, Alfie?

In the 1966 film it was all about Michael Caine, but for this Alfie it’s about making life more enjoyable and relaxing for the residents of Harbourside Lodge.

Harbourside Lodge has expanded its pet therapy program with the arrival of lovable Alfie. There are now four visiting dogs under the pet therapy program and activities coordinator Karli Cain said residents love the interaction.

We've had one little dog, Missy, coming in for a long time and enjoying sitting on residents; laps, but the addition of new dogs such as Alfie is making the program even better,she said.

Our residents have fallen in love with Alfie.

Alfie, a cross between a poodle and a golden retriever, is a new addition to the Portland District Therapy Dogs Inc.

Ms Cain said the arrival of dogs improved residents mood. It makes people feel happy and relaxed, she said.

They are also a calming influence. “Research shows that dogs can calm aggressive behaviour, which is something that can happen with people suffering from dementia, Ms Cain said.

Some residents like to pat or nurse the visiting dogs while others just enjoying watching them romp around.

A lot of residents have had dogs in the past and really enjoy the interaction,

Some residents families bring their own pets for regular visits. This is encouraged as long as the dog is vaccinated and has an easy-going nature.

Cherree Benter from Portland District Therapy Dogs Inc said the dogs were chosen for their temperament and personality. They have to be at least one year old and handlers must be 18 or over.

There's not a lot of obedience training; just common sense stuff to know the dogs will be suitable,Ms Benter said.

People feel so much better after interacting with a dog,she said. You can always start a conversation when you have a dog.

The Portland program has 30 dogs and 26 volunteers.

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