One of the UK’s first dogs to have training to assist those suffering dementia has successfully improved the lives of an elderly couple in Scotland.
Three years back Ken Will, 79, was diagnosed with vascular dementia and his wife Glenys, 66, since took on the role of carer, but soon found it very difficult.
“We've been married 48 years but often I've sat and looked at him and thought, 'I don't know who this person is',” said Ms Will.
However, with the arrival of the two-year-old golden Labrador named Kaspa, things improved. The dog provides plenty of help to the Arbroath-based couple, offering practical training around the house, relieving stress and giving the pair a fantastic excuse to get out of the house.
“Kaspa has totally given us our lives back. Ken is much happier because he's got the dog and we can go out now. We can go shopping together, we can even go on holidays,” said Ms Will.
“We are a lot more relaxed since the dog came because if Ken gets in a mood and angry, the dog comes and nudges him and he forgets his problems. I've got a good bit of him back again.”
Oscar, a two-year-old golden retriever, has been helping another couple in Arbroath, Frank and Maureen Benham. Ms Benham, 69, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
Her husband Frank, 79, said that he couldn’t imagine their lives going back to what they were like before Oscar joined them.
Two further dogs have begun training and will hopefully be helping out people in a similar position soon.
The Dementia Dog project has been spearheaded by the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and was implemented with the funding from the Scottish Government and the UK Design Council.
Gordon Hush of GSA explained that the project gave the students an excellent opportunity outside the field of material manufacture.
Written by: Hannah