SCORES of adults and children across Donegal are enjoying the therapeutic benefits of ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to a little-known charity and its local volunteers.
For the past six years, Irish Therapy Dogs has been providing free ‘pet therapy’ to the clients of centres such as Little Angels, St Conal’s and the Donegal Hospice in Letterkenny as well as St Joseph’s in Stranorlar and a host of private nursing homes.
Once a week, their five volunteers visit dozens of centres here with their canine friends, bringing smiles and many other benefits to residents and clients.
Last weekend, the Donegal News caught up with a number of them.
Ballybofey woman, Heather Neilands, started volunteering last year and visits patients in St Joseph’s with her Cocker Spaniel, ‘Molly.’
“I’ve been doing it for a year now and I just love every minute of it. Some residents in there have had strokes or Alzheimers and don’t talk to anyone, however, they love to interact with Molly. It’s great for the dog too,” she explained.
Another volunteer, Charlotte DuPlessis, says she can “hear the anticipation” when she and her Golden Retriever ‘Lucy’ pass the window before entering the residential centre at St Conal’s.
The latest recruit, Sara Kavourmas, only started a few weeks ago and visits Little Angels with her Shih Tzu ‘Loui’.
“It’s just amazing to see the students reaction and they love to interact with Loui. I have to say, I find the whole experience very rewarding and would recommend to anyone,” she said.
For full, indepth report see today’s Donegal News or subscribe to our digital edition.