Staff at a care home in London have been amazed at the change in one resident’s mindset and wellbeing thanks to two-year-old Shitzhu, Reily. 

Reily is the pet of deputy home manager, Indera Halili and at just 10-weeks old, she was introduced to residents at Aarandale Manor, a 65-bed care home in North London.

From the moment she arrived, Reily made herself known to all the residents and became a regular visitor to the home.

Reily quickly became attached to one particular resident – 75-year-old, Frank Harrod who moved into Aarandale Manor dependent on alcohol and with early onset dementia in 2021.

Home manager, Kirsty Harris said, “We’re not sure what it was, but we were all amazed at how Reily gravitated towards Frank.

“When Frank first moved into the home, he was lonely and at times agitated, but Reily changed all this.”

Frank said, “The very first time I met Reily she was just a small ball of fluff.

“I remember she scratched on my door first thing in the morning and then snuggled up to me for an hour whilst I watched TV.”

Staff remember the clear bond forming between Frank and Reily.

Kirsty added, “It was unbelievable to see Reily and Frank form such a lovely relationship.

“Now, Reily follows Frank everywhere – when he goes to the garden for a cup of tea, she follows – like his little shadow.

“She has completely changed his outlook on life – his mindset has shifted and he’s now happy and positive with a zest for life.”

Frank added, “I never had a dog in my adult life because of all the travelling I did – I never thought I would get attached to any animal, but I have.

“She makes me feel happy and playful and I look forward to her morning visits and then our walk in the garden – it’s a bit sad when she’s not here, but I know she always comes back.”

Alongside Reily is a Jack Russell called Lily, who is a registered ESA (emotional support animal) dog.  Animal-assisted therapy is used to support people living with dementia. Animals can help with cognitive and memory skills which may include remembering their own pets name or evoke happy memories.

Lily is emotionally tuned into the needs of the residents and has a very positive impact on the home.

Kirsty said. “Lily would never approach a resident unless they called her over – this is part of her training, so our residents feel very safe in her company.”

She continued, “Some of our residents who live with dementia are unable to communicate with staff – but they will sit, and stroke Lily and you can see in their faces how calm and happy it makes them.”