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Dogs Bring Cheer To Macquarie Care Centre Before Remembrance Day

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Catholic Healthcare’s Macquarie Care Centre had some very special guests roaming the gardens this week, thanks to a visit from the canine participants of the ‘Defence Community Dogs’ program.

The dogs are part of a program run from Bathurst Correctional Centre called ‘Defence Community Dogs ’. The program sees minimum security inmates training rescued animals as companions for returned servicemen and women who may have suffered physical or mental injuries such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The dogs stay with the inmates for six months as they undergo their training, which includes regular visits to Macquarie Care Centre, much to the delight of the residents. On this occasion, the dogs and their handlers arrived as staff and residents were preparing for Remembrance Day by planting hand-made poppies.

Paula Goodlet, Quality & Education Coordinator at Macquarie Care Centre believes that the program benefits everyone involved.

“The dogs themselves get a second chance, as they are rescue animals. With tireless effort, dedication and training, they become the most amazing companion animals that go on to provide love and much needed help to veterans suffering from PTSD.”

“The handlers need to work extremely hard, and prove themselves worthy to be able to participate in this program. When they get accepted, and are given a dog to train, it is a 24 hour a day responsibility that requires their dedication and commitment.”

“We watch them grow. The dogs become calm and are very clever, showing us a new trick or skill each visit. The handlers develop a sense of worth and pride with each visit. From the first shy visits, where making eye contact is hard, you see the handlers gently smile as their dog enhances the life of the residents, and then before you know it, they are engaging in one on one conversation with familiar residents.” she added.

The residents also love the regular visits from their furry friends.

“They make you feel so much better, they wag their tail and look at you with those eyes.” said Marea.

“I love them, and I wish they could stay here all day.” added Barbara.

Remembrance Day is Sunday 11 November 2018. This year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.