Canine Charisma: A Furry Squad Dancing to the Tune of Joy for Singapore’s Nursing Home Residents
A Uniquely Choreographed Dog Dance Brings Delight to Elderly Residents
Dogs Dancing to the Beat of Compassion in Singapore
In the peaceful hallways of Singapore’s nursing homes, an unusual but endearing scene unfolds. A golden retriever named Elsa waltzes in, her tail keeping the beat, her eyes sparking joy in the hearts of residents.
A Tail-Wagging Therapy
For Madam Kong, 77, the excitement was palpable as she cuddled a charming dachshund, marvelling at its length. A lifelong dog enthusiast, she has never had the pleasure of owning a pet due to her family’s busy schedules.
However, during a heartwarming session, she got to interact with a dachshund, three lively golden retrievers, and two playful goldendoodles who had performed a spectacular showcase at the Singapore Christian Home.
The Redhot Dynomutts Sayang Squad: Paw-some Performers
Behind this unique initiative is the Redhot Dynomutts Sayang Squad, an ensemble of therapy dogs that perform tricks and bring joy to elderly residents of nursing homes, as well as youth grappling with mental health challenges.
Established in 2019, the Sayang Squad comprises pet owners who connected through obedience training classes for their dogs. Recognizing the potential of their canine companions to spread joy and positive energy, they decided to make their dogs’ newly learnt tricks more meaningful by sharing them with the community.
A Dog Therapy Session That Strikes A Chord
The 20 canine members of the Sayang Squad tour a different nursing home each month, spreading smiles and joy among Singapore Christian Home and all six NTUC Health nursing homes located in Geylang East, Pasir Ris, Jurong West, Jurong Spring, Chai Chee, and Tampines.
During their performances, each dog showcases its unique talent, ranging from Arya the golden retriever fetching tissues at her owner’s sneeze, Teddy the Goldendoodle rocking a dance routine in a bib, Hugo the dachshund balancing a stack of treats on his nose, to Troy the golden retriever capturing hearts with his goofy charm.
A Canine Connection that Enriches Lives
These interactive performances do not just entertain; they also offer numerous benefits to the elderly residents, many of whom have had pets in the past. This initiative, facilitated by the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), bridges the gap between seniors and their love for animals.
Mr. James Kuan, executive director of Singapore Christian Home, remarked on how the presence of these therapy dogs lifted spirits, especially amidst the social limitations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He highlighted that the dog therapy sessions indeed made the wait worthwhile, evidenced by the bright smiles on the residents’ faces.
Animal-assisted Activities: A Leap Towards Healthy Ageing
In addition to dog therapy, NTUC Health nursing homes regularly engage their residents with various pet animals to improve their mobility. This includes monthly exercise sessions with the Sayang Squad’s therapy dogs, engaging parrot conversations, and interactive sessions with cats organized by the art-jamming cat cafe Wildflower Studio.
These diverse activities cater to residents of varying physical abilities and cognitive states, making them highly inclusive and enjoyable. Sayang Squad co-founder Shanti Divaharan, an associate professor of educational technology, explained that the pet owners and trainers align their efforts to ensure a balanced and peaceful environment for both the dogs and the residents.
The Magical Bond: Dogs and Humans
“Dogs have this magic that we will never understand. They are not judgmental and give unconditional love,” commented Ms. Ryann Chong, another co-founder of Sayang Squad. Such remarks echo the sentiments of the nursing home residents, who have been deeply touched by the warmth, joy, and unspoken understanding the dogs brought into their lives.
As Singapore Christian Home resident Madam Teo, 70, who once owned a dog, shared, “Dogs are humans’ best friends.” This heartfelt sentiment was echoed by Madam Kong, who expressed her hope to see the Sayang Squad dogs return for more visits.
By connecting the vibrant energy of dogs with the tranquil environment of nursing homes, the Sayang Squad is indeed transforming lives and spreading joy, one paw at a time.
This report is based on an article from The Straits Times.