A fun-loving Jack Russell dog called Rosie has come to the rescue of care home residents struggling to cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The people-friendly canine is a real ‘bundle of joy’ according to her owner, Angela Williams, who works at Bryn Seiont Newydd on the outskirts of Caernarfon.
She is playful but placid which made her a perfect choice to bring in to interact with residents.
A strong bond has now been struck up between Rosie and her new-found best friends who live at Bryn Seiont Newydd.
Angela said: “The truth is that she gets as much pleasure out of seeing them as they do from her visits here.”
The idea of introducing Rosie to residents was born when the award-winning dementia care centre’s usual visits from specialist therapy dogs had to be suspended at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Angela lives with her family at Llandwrog, near Caernarfon, not far away from Bryn Seiont Newydd. The family have bred Jack Russell terriers for five generations.
Rosie is now 10 years old and a much-loved family pet. She has had two litters of puppies when younger, all of which have gone on to good homes in the local area.
Angela, who works with the social enrichment team at Bryn Seiont Newydd, said: “We still hear from some families who have taken in Rosie’s pups and they all tell us what beautiful temperaments they have, just like Rosie.
“She is a lovely dog and not as boisterous as some Jack Russells can be.
“She seems to know instinctively which are the days when I am going to take her to work with me and she gets so excited. But when she gets into the room with residents she automatically calms down and is so gentle and loving with them all. It is a pleasure to see, so emotional. It warms all our hearts seeing how much the residents enjoy Rosie’s visits.”
Research by the Alzheimer’s Society has shown that caring for and interacting with animals can potentially improve self-esteem and confidence among people living with dementia. Therapy dogs have been known to calm and soothe individuals.
That is why a specialist team was recruited to bring therapy animals into Bryn Seiont Newydd on regular visits.
But this had to stop when the global pandemic struck and enhanced social distancing protocols were introduced.
Angela said: “I could see that many residents missed these visits and with restrictions on family visiting also in force the danger of them feeling increasingly isolated concerned us all.”
Angela and her fellow social enrichment co-ordinators worked as hard as possible to minimise the isolation by organising various recreational activities. While the team were talking about how much the therapy dogs were missed Angela hit on the idea of bringing in Rosie.
She said: “It proved a genius idea. I knew Rosie would be good with the residents but until I saw them together I never imagined how much joy she would bring to them. Even now when I see the smiles on residents’ faces as they call her it can move me to tears.”
Nia Davies Williams, Bryn Seiont Newydd musician in residence and a leader of the enrichment activities programme said Rosie’s visits were immensely enjoyed by both residents and staff.
She said: “We have so many photos of her on the wall interacting with the residents here. Just looking at their smiling faces no-one can fail to see how much they enjoy the visits.
“Some of our inhabitants visibly come out of their shells on seeing Rosie. It is particularly noticeable among those who may not be so enthusiastic about other activities. Not all residents are into arts and crafts or even music but some of our more naturally reserved personalities really light up when Rosie arrives on the scene. She will sit on their laps, be patiently stroked or go for a walk along the corridor with them.”
Angela said tri-coloured Rosie has been a favourite of her family ever since she was born as the last and smallest pup in a litter.
She said: “It was easy to see immediately that she was small in size but so big in personality. She has been a charmer ever since the day she was born. She has a natural instinct when it comes to detecting what kind of mood people are in and she adapts her behaviour to suit the person she is with. With some people she is a little bit more playful and with others she will just sit relaxed on their lap comforting them.”
With Rosie’s sparkling eyes and glossy white, black and brown coat, Angela’s family, who live on a small-holding, used to enter her at local competitions such as the annual Beddgelert Dog Show.
Angela said: “She might not have always won a trophy but she was always a favourite with the crowd!
“Her show days are over now as she is getting a little gracefully grey with age.”
Angela said Rosie has a brother called Toby who lives with Angela’s friend in Chester. Whenever she rings up the two dogs end up barking greetings at each other down the phone.
She added: “We also have a much younger pup, just six months old who I sometimes bring to Bryn Seiont Newydd with her. Given his young age he is still learning and is very curious. He’s not quite as calm as Rosie, but if she thinks he is getting too excitable Rosie will give him a nudge and put him right. It is so funny to see.”
Angela tends to take Rosie to work on alternate Saturdays and occasionally in the week. She said the visits are hugely uplifting for her as well as the residents.
She has worked at Bryn Seiont Newydd about four years, originally starting as a carer until she was recruited into the enrichment activities team about two years ago.
She said: “It is the best job in the world, so rewarding. I love my job and I am so inspired when residents start to react positively to any of our recreational activities whether it be through music or handicrafts or dancing. It is like that when they interact with Rosie. When they smile so brightly as she approaches them I feel I have really made a big difference to their day by bringing her in. There is no beating that feeling.”