Dementia And Pets

Nikki shared this video with me this morning, the story of how a rescue dog became a man with dementia’s best friend. ‘What about animal shelters?’, she wrote. ‘Wouldn’t they be great for partnerships with The Care Combine?’ Timely, Nikki. We’d just been talking about dementia and pets last night …

For ages my daughter has been trying to persuade me that we should get a dog or a cat. A couple of times, she’s taken Lena to The Cat Cafe in Manchester, and it’s been a really positive experience.

But having a pet at home? No thanks. I’ve got plenty to do taking care of one person, let alone two. I remember the last time Josie asked me to adopt a sweet little stray dog, in Bahrain 25 years ago, promising faithfully that she’d take care of her. It started well enough … for a day or two. It ended with the family back in the UK and me still in Bahrain, cooking for the dog because she’d only eat boiled chicken, taking her for long drives because she’d only walk if she’d had a ride in the car firsA pet is forever, remember?

Or maybe not.

It was Lena’s birthday yesterday, and we all piled over to Josie’s house for dinner. Josie had a guest for the weekend, a tiny excited dog called Barley. Well, in no time Barley and Lena were besties, as you can see.

Dementia and pets - 1
Dementia and pets - 3

Perfect! All of the joy – and none of the responsibility.

Like Barley’s owners, people with pets often need to get away for a weekend, and need someone to do the looking after. I could go for that. After all, I love pets too – in short bursts.

People who can’t get out too. They might need help with their pets.

And then, as Nikki suggested, there are the animal shelters.

There’s plenty of scope here for the meaningful dementia activities we’re planning for the Bine. People with dementia – assisted by their carers – are helping out in their community, doing something useful. And getting a lot of joy from their new friends too.

So let’s add to our list of Bine activities:

  • Taking care of pets for the weekend.
  • Assisting people with their pets when they can’t get out themselves.
  • Volunteering at animal shelters.

Read more about our Bine activity ideas here.

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