Connecting Seniors and Dogs on International Dog Day

This post written by PALS Pets

Hey there, I’m one of the 374 dogs that volunteer with the Pet Access League Society (PALS). We have some cats and bunnies and even a guinea pig as well, but let’s be serious, dogs rule! To prove it, we even have our own day “International Dog Day”, which is the reason I’m writing this. I want to let you know how amazing PALS is, the benefits to spending time with a pet and the great work that we do with seniors and dogs. I guess I should also mention that there are also 450 human volunteers, though we all know that their only purpose is to drive us to our visits.

How Does PALS Connect Dogs and Seniors?

Calgarians living in Seniors facilities, care homes and hospices are at the core of PALS programming, these facilities are where PALS got its start. Many of the residents living in these places have had pets in their former homes and sometimes have even had to give them up in order to move into their new living environment, can you imagine? One day, we’re living together, we’ve formed that amazing human/dog bond and then suddenly, you must find me a new home so that you can move into your new home. And that makes everyone sad.

Well, PALS to the rescue! For many seniors living in the care facilities, our visits are the highlight of their week! At one of the homes we visit, there is a lovely gentleman who insists on wearing his suit on PALS day. He gets dressed up for us!! I mean, anyone who has ever stroked a dog knows how good it makes you feel.

What are the Benefits of Dogs Spending Time with Seniors?

Some of the people we get to visit with are living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s and have difficulty using the human language to communicate with the people around them, but when me and my PALS come to visit, they light up – they get a twinkle in their eye, a small smile on their face and then the best thing happens, they start to pet us! This makes us so happy! It’s because we communicate non-verbally and are very accepting of everyone. I’ve heard that after we visit some residents have displayed improved appetite and more social interactions. That is definitely a benefit of spending time with a pet!




Did You Know?

Just 15 minutes petting a dog sets off a chemical chain reaction in the brain, lowering levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol and increasing the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin which lowers heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels – we are that good! During what can be a lonely time of life, my friends and I bring unconditional love with our visits. It can be a bridge to more socialization with others, mental stimulation and a renewed interest in life.

How PALS Dog Visits Effect Seniors?

Here’s what Facility Managers at Seniors Centers are saying about PALS:

“Residents love the visits, look forward to them. Residents always ask when they will be back, and many have a ‘favourite’ dog.”

“Through PALS interactions, patients demonstrate fewer negative behaviours. The PALS program offers patients the opportunity to receive unconditional acceptance through interactions with pets.”

“Our residents look forward to the visits and enjoy their time with the dogs. They don’t have the opportunity to be around pets as often anymore. And, it assists with making it more normalized living and increasing their quality of life.”

How to Schedule a PALS Visit?

If you would like to inquire about having PALS Pets visiting your home or facility, please call (403) 250-7257.

Ohana Care

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