Posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Service dogs find new role as “dementia dogs” in U.K.

service dogs

Service dogs have proven to be an invaluable resource for those with blindness, dealing with recovery from surgery and as a major stress reliever, and it seems that we’ve only scratched the surface of their potential. According to The Independent, an elderly couple in Scotland recently became the first recipients of a canine with a new kind of dementia training, which is specially designed to assist individuals who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental deterioration.

Mr. Will, 79, was diagnosed with vascular dementia over three years ago and his wife Mrs. Will, 66, took over the role of primary caregiver, but that all changed with the arrival of Kaspa, a two year-old Golden Retriever with special skills that can assist the Wills in myriad daily activities.”Kaspa has totally given us our lives back. Ken is much happier because he’s got the dog and we can go out now,” Mrs. Will told the news source. “We can go shopping together; we can even go on holidays.”

Getting back to normalcy. Kaspa’s role as a dementia dog was originally an idea from product design students at the Glasgow School of Art, which was then taken on with the help of Alzheimer Scotland, Dogs for the Disabled and Guide Dogs Scotland. While the program is still in its early phases, couples like the Wills have had great success thus far and the dog’s presence has allowed them to worry less about everyday activities that have become difficult since the onset of the condition. In addition to performing a number of different service dog roles, Kaspa has received a wealth of new skills tailored to his owner’s needs, such as fetching medicines when a special alarm turns on, waking up the Wills each morning at the required time and even carrying items when they go out. Most importantly, Kaspa’s presence has taken some of the stress out of caring for dementia and can allow the couple to enjoy their lives to the fullest. “We are a lot more relaxed since the dog came because if Ken gets in a mood or angry, the dog comes and nudges him and he forgets his problems. I’ve got a good bit of him back again,”

Mrs. Will told the news source. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans suffer from the disease, and dementia dogs like Kaspa could be a fabulous new treatment method that helps individuals and families better manage the condition. This content is provided by the pet wellness experts at Hartz. We know that adopting a dog or cat is a huge commitment, so we’re here to help you feel confident and become the best pet parent you can be.