Pet therapy helps local seniors with Alzheimer’s and the dogs involved, too!

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HOUSTON — Most dog owners could agree having a furry friend can be therapeutic. But as it turns out, the relationship can be just as beneficial for the dog.

Friends For Life is a no-kill animal shelter that takes care of what some might call unwanted or un-adoptable dogs.  Some of the animals suffer from separation anxiety.

“Some of these dogs are unwanted dogs,” Edward Esguerra said. “Some of them have skin conditions. Some of them have behavior issues. But here, it doesn’t matter!”

The AutumnGrove Cottage Memory Care Community, which supports seniors with different forms of dementia, has recently adopted Friends For Life and is fostering dogs until they can be placed into a forever home.

“Some of this program really goes back to our thinking outside the shelter philosophy,”Jennifer Hopkins said. “That means, getting creative, thinking outside the box, getting innovative and it helps us save more animals.”

“We’ve seen a few different residents who just light up, and they feel so fulfilled, and they feel a sense of purpose again.”

According to Dr. Prem P. Gogia, the partnership  seems to be working for the AutumnGrove residents, too!

“They’re less agitated. They’re less stressed. Ultimately, it helps manage their depression, which is very, very common among Alzheimer’s people as well as any other form of dementia,” Gogia said.

The four-legged friends are responding just as well.

“Being in a home where someone`s always there, it really helps with separation anxiety,” Hopkins said.

Those living with dementia respond to different forms of therapy such as music and massage, and now they can add pet therapy to the list!

No wonder they’re called friends for life.

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