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How Butter The Dog Changed The Lives Of Dementia Patients Living In Care

People living with dementia often have to give up their pets to enter a facility with the care they need, so this country aged-care centre adopted a dog for them.

Moyne Aged Care Centre in Canowindra, NSW recently opened a memory care unit.

The unit is set up just like a home, but it needed one more thing to help residents settle in smoothly… and that thing was Butter.

Butter meets her new family. Image: Melissa Delaney

“We thought it would feel more like a home if we had a dog, especially because a lot of our residents have had pets or had to give them up to come here. So, we adopted Butter,” Lifestyle Coordinator, Melissa Delaney, told 10 daily.

The rescue German Shepherd cross is already improving the lives of his many owners.

“Butter can sense the ones he needs to be gentle with and the residents who he can be a bit more playful with.

“We have one resident who doesn’t socialise well with others and likes the privacy of his own room, but today he came outside with the rest of us for afternoon tea and his new best mate Butter by his side.”

Bringing confidence to those living with dementia. Image: Melissa Delaney

Delaney worked closed with Central West Animal Rescue for months to find the perfect pooch for the job.

“We took some of our residents to meet him, then his carer brought him here to make sure he likes us and the centre as well.

“He has settled in so much better than we thought and we couldn’t have chosen a better dog,” Delaney said.

Jamie Thorne from Central West Animal Rescue couldn’t agree more.

“The residents lit up as soon as I walked him into the facility,” Thorne told 10 daily.

Taking Butter for a walk improves mental and physical health. Image: Melissa Delaney

“He has brought a sense of worth to some of the residents who can talk to him and take him for walks.”

Five-month-old Butter also has his own courtyard, regular breaks with Delaney’s three dogs at her home and attends regular puppy pre-school.

Being a rural area, many of the residents are from the country, so the centre focuses on an array of animal therapy with on-site chooks, birds, cats and fish along with horse visits.

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“Our residents get unconditional love from the animals, they can talk to them when they can’t talk to us," Delaney said. "The improvement in behavior management is incredible.

“You know, animals aren’t there telling them to have a shower or take their medicine, they’re just there to love them and give them support.”