10 TODAY • MONDAY • FEBRUARY 14, 2005
FESTIVE visiting took on a new twist this Lunar New Year when 10 “therapy dogs” visited residents at an old folks’ home.
The big smiles on the residents’ faces say it all.
Centenarian Wee Huat, who just turned 100 last month, said the sight of the four-legged friends was the best birthday present he had received. “I like animals. These dogs are very obedient. They do what you tell them to do,” he said.
The dogs belong to Therapy Dogs Singapore — a non-profit organisation of caring dog-owners, whose mission is to cater to the physical and emotional needs of the underprivileged through pet-assisted therapy. Besides festive cheer, the therapy dogs and their owners also brought Lunar New Year goodie bags and mandarin oranges for all the residents at Thong Teck Home for Senior Citizens. Said Dr Quek Hwee Choo, a volunteer with Therapy Dogs Singapore: “Studies have shown that animal therapy — not just dogs — help to reduce depression ... because sometimes, the elderly may be a bit reclusive and may not like to be approached by other people. “If you’ve been here for so long life can be quite dull. So, anticipating the visit of the dog can actually brighten up their moods. Studies have shown that it actually brings up certain hormones in them and that’s a mood enhancer.” Friendly and gentle, the therapy dogs are all trained and certified by pet-trainers to interact well with people. And there is no doubt that when it comes to offering comfort and joy, these cuddly pets are true professionals.
— Channel NewsAsia CHANNEL NEWSASIA