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Poodle forges bond with care home residents

PUBLISHED: 08:36 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:08 31 January 2018

Ginger Beer at Heron Lodge. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare

Ginger Beer at Heron Lodge. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare

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A dog is brightening the lives of residents at a car home in Wroxham.

Ginger Beer getting some attention at Heron Lodge. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare Ginger Beer getting some attention at Heron Lodge. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare

The therapeutic poodle, Ginger Beer, is proving sweet by name and nature at Heron Lodge in Norwich Road.

The dog has been visiting the home with owner Jon Wright, 71, with charity Pets As Therapy (PAT).

Retired airline pilot Mr Wright first registered to volunteer with the charity as a way of keeping Ginger Beer active after his other dog died.

Many of the residents at the home are living with dementia and in order for Ginger Beer to be registered with the charity she had to complete a rigorous temperament test, which included dropping large objects behind her and approaching her in an animated and aggressive manner.

Ginger Beer with owner Jon Wright at Heron Lodge. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare Ginger Beer with owner Jon Wright at Heron Lodge. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare

Mr Wright said: “I knew she was calm and very well behaved but we still had to go through a 15-point check to prove she is suitable.

“She passed with flying colours and has shown how good her temperament is since we started visiting homes – on one occasion she was smacked on the nose but her only reaction was to walk on calmly to the next person.

“The bond she has formed with residents is quite remarkable.”

Janette Summer, Heron Lodge activities coordinator, said Ginger Beer had a positive impact on the home, particularly for people living with dementia.

She said: “Ginger Beer brings a lot of comfort to our residents and brings back memories of their own pets. They love to stroke her.

“Research had shown that dogs can have a relaxing effect on people living with dementia.”

There are currently 150 dogs and three cats registered with PAT in Norfolk.

However, volunteer coordinator and dog assessor for PAT Norwich, said this was not enough to satisfy demand.

She said: “Due to demand for our services, we have a massive waiting list and some places have been waiting for over six years.”

The charity was founded in 1983 with the aim of enhancing health and wellbeing in communities by bringing behaviourally assessed animals to schools, hospitals and care homes. The pets are particularly effective in providing companionship and comfort for the lonely and unwell.

If you are interested in registering you and your pet as PAT volunteers, visit petsastherapy.org

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