Dog therapy sessions to run at sheltered housing in Hillsborough

South Yorkshire animal charity Rain Rescue visited sheltered housing in Hillsborough on Wednesday to provide dog therapy for the residents.

The team at Rain Rescue initially visited sheltered accommodation for people over 60, Park View Lodge, in April, to carry out a test-run of the scheme.

The reaction was so positive that the two companies have decided to team up and run regular dog therapy sessions. The scheme aims to bring happiness to the residents by bringing Rain Rescue’s friendly rescue dogs to visit them.

Steve Neilson, a team member of Rain Rescue, brings two dogs at a time to Park View Lodge, Mabel and Yogi. Visits typically last for two hours at a time.

Mr Neilson said: “We hope that the visits will help tackle loneliness. We are aware of some residents who don’t get visitors at the sheltered housing, so we really hope they will appreciate us and the dogs coming to visit them.”

Julie Gamble, a neighbourhood officer of Park View Lodge, said: “So far, the scheme has benefited our tenants in lots of ways. Many of them have to leave behind pets when they move into sheltered housing, so it’s nice for them to see dogs in their new home. Tenants with dementia seem to get a lot out of patting and stroking the dogs, as they bring back a lot of fond memories. It was lovely to see the tenants laughing and smiling with the dogs.”

The residents have also enjoyed other activities in recent months like games and craft sessions, coffee mornings, poetry sessions with students from The University of Sheffield, visits from workers and animals from Heeley City Farm and regular pie lunches.

Since the scheme began, residents of Park View Lodge have taken time out to bake biscuits and knit blankets for the dogs.

Nina Dalmonte, a resident of Park View Lodge, said: “The dogs cheer up the whole place. They’re just so lovely, young and full of energy, and I think they take us out of ourselves when they come to visit.”

The scheme will now run on a monthly basis.

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