When two-year-old Maggie padded cheerfully into the bright surroundings of Poole’s latest nursing home it was a doubly special moment.
The collie cross poodle is the 500th dog taken on by Caring Canines and her visit to Bourne View was the Dorset therapy group’s first in 12 years to a just-opened Colten Care home.
Amid smiles all round, Maggie was the star of the show as she brought the gift of animal companionship to some of the first residents.
Both Ena Potter and Barbara Kemp were overjoyed to have the chance to stroke Maggie and play with her.
“She was beautiful, so soft and cuddly,” said Ena. “I have had dogs all my life and to have one in my arms again was wonderful.”
Barbara agreed, saying: “I had a Jack Russell called Scampi and he was amazingly clever. He even knew how to play hide and seek with my grandchildren. Being visited by Maggie was a lovely treat.”
As well as care homes, Caring Canines volunteers and their therapy dogs visit hospitals, schools and hospices. Founded in 2006 with 30 members visiting 15 venues, the group has grown to nearly 200 members with 110 regular venues. There are 140 teams of owners and dogs serving a 15-mile radius of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.
Caring Canines has been visiting Colten Care residents since 2006 beginning with The Aldbury in Parkstone, a dedicated dementia care home. Now, Bourne View will join seven other Colten homes receiving visits, fortnightly or monthly depending on demand.
With Maggie at Bourne View were owner Rachael Seaward and Caring Canines co-founders Sue Dennett and Julie Lankshear.
Sue said: “For care home residents who may have had pets in the past, our dogs can help unlock memories and be great prompts for starting conversations. They bring a bit of magic with them. The chance to meet and play with a well-trained dog is really appreciated by those who may be confined to bed or who can’t readily communicate with other people.”
Art deco-themed Bourne View, in Langside Avenue on the Poole-Bournemouth border, welcomed its first residents in March ahead of an official opening in April. It offers residential, assisted living and nursing care in a spacious, purpose-built environment reflecting the latest thinking in elderly people’s care.
Karen Grant A-Court, the home’s Companionship Team Leader, said: “Our residents enjoyed Maggie’s visit so much they’ve chosen Caring Canines as one of the good causes we’ll be fundraising for this year.”