Four legged retirees bringing companionship to residents in Tasmania

Heston with Lillian Martin resident Betty Belbin and daughter Hazel Parkinson.

Heston with Lillian Martin resident Betty Belbin and daughter Hazel Parkinson.

Two retired greyhounds are spending their twilight years keeping residents company and easing their transition into aged care at Uniting AgeWell’s Strathglen and Lillian Martin communities in Tasmania.

The canines have been such a hit, they recently featured on ABC News in Tasmania and the ABC Hobart Facebook page, where the moving story has been viewed almost 380,000 times.

The idea to adopt a greyhound for the Strathglen site came from care manager Tracy Harvison, who was concerned about reports that so many greyhounds were euthanized at the end of their careers.

Tracy felt adopting a greyhound at the site would be a win-win for all, given residents often have to give up their own animals when they enter aged care. After gaining management approval, ex-racer Monty joined the community.

“There are so many benefits to residents having animals around,” Tracy said. “From a mental health perspective, the physical aspect of being able to touch, pat and cuddle an animal is really beneficial.”

“Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are basically couch potatoes.

“They don’t require a lot of exercise and are very docile, so they are a perfect fit for an aged care residence in that regard.”

Monty has become a great fit for Strathglen; he is even in tune with those residents who need a bit of extra TLC.

“He just seems to know when someone is unwell or feeling down,” Tracy said. “If someone needs a bit more attention, Monty will seek them out and spend some extra time with them.”

Over at Lillian Martin, Heston the greyhound has joined the community.

Acting care manager, Frances Schroeter, who heads the Lillian Martin Pet Committee, said Heston is a great ambassador and draw card for the site.

“There have been people who, after meeting Heston on their tour of the site, have chosen to live here because of him,” Frances said.

Frances is so passionate about the important role pets play in the lives of those living in aged care that she is also a member of the Uniting AgeWell Paws, Claws and Beaks Committee. The committee hoping to develope policies and procedures that will allow new residents to bring their pets with them.

To find out more, you can view the ABC story on the UA Facebook page. 


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