Dogs helping Scots with dementia to regain confidence and enjoy life

The Dementia Dog Project say the animals 'create a sense of purpose and playfulness' for their owner.

Dogs are helping Scots with dementia to regain their confidence and live life to the fullest.

The Dementia Dog Project say the animals “create a sense of purpose and playfulness” for people living with the condition.

Based in Glasgow, the project is a collaboration between Alzheimer Scotland and Dogs for Good to train up dogs to live with families caring for someone with mild, early stage dementia.

The pets also help with everyday tasks – such as fetching medication or reminding people to complete their daily routine.

Fiona Corner, head of development at Alzheimer Scotland, said: “You could say that a human could help them do a lot of these tasks – prompting or reminding someone to take their medication.

“But actually, what each of these tasks is doing is just lifting that strain off the carer’s shoulders.

STV News

“The dog also helps bring the person with dementia and their carer – often their spouse – together again.”

The assistance dogs have full public access rights, unlike pet dogs, to provide reassurance and support in busy and unfamiliar environments.

Anne Rankin’s husband Henry lived with vascular dementia for around 12 years before his death in 2022.

The couple got their assistance dog, Uno, in 2018. Anne believes he was Henry’s lifeline, and said she doesn’t know what the pair would have done without him.

She said: “2018 we got Uno, and I think Henry would have died sooner, to tell you the truth.

“He would have lost all his confidence – for me, I wouldn’t have had any respite whatsoever.”

Following Henry’s death, Uno went on to retrain as an “activity dog” for Alzheimer Scotland’s dementia resource centres.

Project in Glasgow helping people with dementia - with the help of dogsSTV News

He now takes part in a range of events such as “doggie bingo”, as well as scavenger hunts and art-themed sessions.

The project is now hoping to match a young dementia assistance Labrador with someone who is at a mild stage of dementia and living at home with a full-time unpaid carer in the greater Glasgow area.

It will be the tenth time the project team has placed a dog in a Scottish home since the scheme was launched ten years ago.

The project team also offers workshops for families affected by dementia with ownership of pet dogs, and to help people with dementia achieve specific goals through a structured programme.

People can apply for an assistance dog on the Dementia Dog Project’s website.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in