Visiting dog brings joy to old age home

2015-01-19 14:02
Ethel Underhill with Rodger. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

Ethel Underhill with Rodger. (Jonathan Burton, The Witness)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - A KwaZulu-Natal old age home proved all you need is man’s best friend and some puppy love to turn your day around.

Emma Barter Old Age Home nursing sister Pat Ferguson decided two years ago to bring her beloved Border Collie, Rodger, to visit those in the home. Rodger was an absolute hit with the people of Emma Barter and since then, Ferguson has brought Rodger, 15, to visit the home every Thursday morning.

“Some of the people here have dementia and severe Alzheimer’s disease, and Rodger has made such a difference in their lives,” said Ferguson.

'My dear doggy'

Ferguson recounted the story of an Emma Barter resident who suffers from Alzheimer’s. “She does not remember people’s names and doesn’t even know what day it is, but she knows Rodger and remembers his name.”

The resident was found petting and talking to Rodger in the passage a few minutes later. “My dear doggy, I do love you, Rodger,” she said.

Ferguson said Rodger chose the people he wanted to visit and could not be told who to go to.

Regularly visited by Rodger, Ethel Underhill, 77, said she looked forward all week to visits from her friend.

Underhill said she doesn’t get many visitors, but since Rodger has been around, it doesn’t bother her too much.

“I wouldn’t exchange his visits for anything else. I love him to bits,” said Underhill.

'Highlight of my day'

Fay, 84, and Joe, 86, Mogg, residents at Emma Barter for just over a year, are usually Rodger’s first stop of the day.

“My husband always gives him biltong or leftover meat. We are quite crafty and don’t let anyone see,” said Fay with a giggle.

Rodger flopped at Fay’s feet as she sat on her bed petting his fluffy mane of hair, and spoke about her and her husband’s love for Rodger.

“Seeing Rodger is the highlight of my day. He is just adorable,” she said.

Ferguson said she believed pet therapy had many advantages and to be at a home that allowed animals was important to her.

Ferguson, a nurse for 40 years said the visits had not only made a difference for people in Emma Barter, it had made a positive difference in Rodger’s life too.

Health benefits of human-animal bond

Founder of Pets As Therapy, Charmaine French said although most dogs are just kept as pets, many dogs are used for sniffing out drugs and rescue operations.

“Do we even need to mention people with disabilities who regain some of their independence because of their faithful, highly trained service dogs?

“Service dogs are trained to assist with physical tasks and provide social support to their human partners. These dogs learn 40 commands to enhance the independence of people with ailments ranging from spinal cord injuries to multiple sclerosis,” said French.

“Positive physical, psychological, psychosocial, motivational and educational benefits have been linked to the presence of companion animals.

“For example, reduction in blood pressure, heart rates and stress levels, as well as increases in emotional well-being and social interaction, are proven benefits occurring from the human-animal bond,” French added.

French said interaction with a dog and other furry animals has a very positive effect on their quality of life and interaction with pets can improve their recovery time after serious diseases, infections or trauma.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  good news  |  animals

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.