Dogs for people: FOUR PAWS PROJECT brings comfort to elderly people

Romanian stray dogs bring joy to the elderly

The 'Dogs for People' project shows how people and stray dogs can work together for a good cause. The project started in 2012 when the FOUR PAWS team and their well-trained four-legged colleagues visited a home for children with special needs and also a retirement home. Now a new centre for elderly people is participating in the project and the results are remarkable.

The elderly ladies look forward to the visits by the former strays.

More active and more sociable

Patients with schizophrenia, Alzheimer's or acute depression respond lovingly to the presence of the dogs who visit them weekly. 'We want to prove that stray dogs have the same skills as any other dog, that they can connect to people and surprise them with their fantastic behaviour', says Anca Tomescu, head of stray animal care in Romania. 'The programme, developed with the help of specialists from FOUR PAWS, helps older people to become more active, to break through their isolation and even to socialize more and gain more confidence'.

At the 'Sfantul Mercenic Fanurie' retirement home in Bucharest, the new participant in the project, more than 20 elderly people wanted to take part in 'Dogs for People'. This home is quite remote and people do not go out that often. The stray dogs are very welcome here and the residents greet them with broad smiles and are full of enthusiasm.

FOUR PAWS has been working with stray dogs since 2004

In 2004, FOUR PAWS in Romania introduced the first Animal Assisted Therapy project in which former stray dogs are selected and trained by experts to become therapy dogs. Since the start of the project, FOUR PAWS has shown the world that stray dogs can be of enormous value: they can help people with psychological and physical disabilities. The 'Dogs for People' project started in the spring of 2012 after lengthy research on the topic – it was the first time that an initiative like this was started in Romania.