Meet the therapy dogs bringing joy to aged-care homes this Christmas

'It's an honour to bring some joy into their world'
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Forget Donna, Dancer and Prancer, and meet Olivia, Sallee and Zac, who are bringing the magic of Christmas to elderly Aussies.

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Nan, 79, and Kevin Sharp, 82, have been donning their border collies with antlers, bells and bows to visit aged-care residents in Holdfast Bay, SA, for the past six years and say it’s a privilege to be part of spreading festive love.

“Kevin and I are fortunate to celebrate Christmas with our large family, but it’s not always a happy time for many who are isolated from their families,” Nan tells New Idea.

“It is an honour to be able to bring some joy in to their world. The dogs are well trained, but it still amazes me that they are so trusting, allowing us to put antler headbands on them, clip a bow tie to their collar or tie a huge red bow with bells attached.”

Nan and her dogs
Nan and her dogs love to give back. (Credit: Supplied)

Great-grandmother-of-five Nan has spent more than two decades taking her trained pet therapy pooches to aged-care homes for social ‘meet and pat’ sessions.

While she loves the sound of the canines’ jingling bells down the corridors at Christmas and decking them out with bunny ears and fluffy white tails at Easter, Nan says the residents, staff and family members benefit from pet therapy all year round.

Nan's dogs
Olivia, Sallee and Zac bring cheer to those who need it most at Christmas time. (Credit: Supplied)

“On our first venture back after COVID played havoc, it was the staff that couldn’t get enough of the dogs,” she says.

“Many residents plan their week around our visits and the dogs love the attention and pats they receive too.

dogs hard at work
The residents love interacting with the pooches. (Credit: supplied)

“We are now older than some of the residents we see, and we hope to be blessed with good health to continue for many years to come.”

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