The faithful dog has the ability to become an Australian legend, as has Simpson's Donkey of Gallipoli. The true, heartrending tale of a devoted terrier's reaction to the death of his master, a pikeman at the ill-fated and brutal Eureka Stockade, is what legends are made of.
ABSTRACT Although some research suggests that dog-assisted therapy may be beneficial for people with dementia living in residential aged care facilities, the intervention has not been adequately investigated. To address this shortcoming, we conducted a randomized controlled trial of dog-assisted therapy versus a human-therapist-only intervention for this population. Fifty-five residents with mild to moderate dementia living in three Australian residential aged care facilities completed an 11-week trial of the interventions. Allocation to the intervention was random and participants completed validated measures of mood, psychosocial functioning, and quality of life (QOL), both prior to and following the intervention. No adverse events were associated with the dog-assisted intervention, and following it participants who had worse baseline depression scores demonstrated significantly improved depression scores relative to participants in the human-therapist-only intervention. Participants in the dog-assisted intervention also showed significant improvements on a measure of QOL in one facility compared with those in the human-therapist-only group (although worse in another facility that had been affected by an outbreak of gastroenteritis). This study provides some evidence that dog-assisted therapy may be beneficial for some residents of aged care facilities with dementia.