Pets bring happiness and companionship to residents in aged care

After moving into residential aged care, 80-year-old Mary Lester’s life changed for the better with Freckles, the canine resident of St Vincent’s Care Services in Toowoomba, QLD.
Share on
I spent more than 20 years living in Clermont, Queensland, where we owned a bakery and made a delicious meat pie and were famous for our pastries.

I’ve had pets since I can remember, mostly cats and bigger dogs. Everyone in Clermont knew we were animal lovers and would drop any stray or rescued animals off for us to look after. Sometimes, we would wake up and find a box of kittens on our front doorstep.

In 2019, I moved to St Vincent’s Care Services (SVCS) Toowoomba and was sad about being away from my home and family. Then I met Freckles, a rescue dog who was living in the Birdsville Wing and was bought up for me to look after for a night or two while his other human friend was in hospital.

Dogs do choose people, and Freckles decided to move to Grantham Wing for a while. Freckles seemed to like it here and has never left since, apart from casually visiting his other friends in the other wings.

Freckles means everything to me, and he really is the most incredible dog. Freckles is loved by most people here. Every day he does his rounds around Grantham Wing to go and visit his regular friends. He knows when we are not feeling well and seems to know when to take time to sit with us in our rooms.

I like it when the staff stop and pat Freckles, too.  I can see that even a 20-second break and stop can help our staff through their day. When I go to hospital, Freckles has friends in Grantham Wing who are more than happy to have him stay over with them for a few nights.

I love gardening and Freckles likes being out in the sun. He will run around and do somersaults on the grass while outside. We can teach him anything. Freckles also comes with me to the shops on my scooter.

Freckles also joins in on some group activities with the other residents. He will follow someone if he wants to join in and I do not go. He also returns when he feels like, and takes full advantage of the electronic sensor doors for entry.

Freckles makes a positive difference just being here with us. When we are feeling lonely or sad, Freckles will visit us and make us feel better. I do not know how he knows, but he does. He is a very smart dog.

If you asked Freckles what he thinks of life at St Vincent’s, he would say he is in Heaven and has made it to the top!

I think all aged care facilities should have pets. There should be more thought into new residents bringing their existing pets along with them to live here. It is no fun giving up everything to move into aged care, especially when you have nowhere for your pet to go to. Giving away a table and chair is easy, but giving up a living pet is sometimes impossible.

Mary Lester, QLD

Read another story

Read all stories

menu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram