Hope Springs Eternal Dog Rescue brings lonely pets and empty laps together

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Hope Springs Eternal Dog Rescue, Rehoming and Retirement Inc has been bringing lonely pets and empty laps together across metropolitan Adelaide and Adelaide Hills in South Australia for the past 10 years.

The charity works with small breed dogs and provides support for older pet owners in their homes and in aged care facilities.

Chris Moore, Founder of Hope Springs Eternal Dog Rescue, said, “We offer short term boarding for pets when their owners need to go into hospital and don’t have family or a support network who can care for their pet. We also help with financial assistance to pay for urgent vet care for pets when the owners are experiencing financial hardship.”

The charity’s Cuddles & Co program also matches the pets of working people with older people who love pets but can no longer have one due to living arrangements, health issues or finances.

“The pet keeps the older person company while the owner is at work,” says Ms Moore.

The program also provides greater social connections between pet owners and older adults, such as the opportunity to check in regularly on an older person and advise pre-identified support persons if they are not doing well.

“We have often seen older people are unaware of their pets’ needs, such as with grooming, exercise and vet care, and may struggle to take them to the vet particularly if they no longer drive,” said Ms Moore.

“We consider it would be of absolute benefit to provide for these pet care needs in home care packages. Very often maintaining their relationship with their pet is the sole reason people have to get up each day and preserving this bond and relationship makes a significant difference to quality of life and wellbeing for the senior person.”

Hope Springs Eternal Dog Rescue takes on senior dogs when their owners need to go into nursing care and continue to take pets to visit their owners in care on a regular basis.

“This has been such a positive for the person struggling to transition from living at home to living in an aged care environment, both for the benefit of maintaining their relationship with their pet but also the extra human visitor to interact with,” said Ms Moore.

The rescue group has also commenced pet therapy visits to aged care facilities and have seen firsthand what a positive difference these weekly visits make.

“Residents who can be difficult and won't engage absolutely live for and come alive for their weekly pet therapy visit. Other residents enjoy the interaction with a friendly dog, talking about the pets they had and the extra human visitor, too!” said Ms Moore.

Survey on the benefits and disadvantages of pet ownership

Hope Springs Eternal Dog Rescue conducted a survey in 2023 on the benefits and disadvantages of pet ownership, and results did not surprise Ms Moore and rather “reinforced her beliefs”.

“In the survey, 93% of respondents cited positives associated with pet ownership and 13% of these also cited some negatives.  None of the respondents cited negative effects only,” she said.

For instance, when asked the best thing about pet ownership, 96% of people said companionship and unconditional love, 81% said ‘making me laugh and having someone to greet me when I get home’, and 70% said encouragement to exercise.

To what participants thought the disadvantages of pet ownership were, 74% said ‘pets passing’ and 51% said ‘difficulty to go away’.

“In discussing special experiences with their pets, may people cited companionship, unconditional love, affection, support and comfort during illness or tough times, and their pet making them smile and laugh regularly and helping them manage mental health issues including depression,” said Ms Moore.

“Many also enjoyed travelling with their pets or doing things together like walking, going to the beach, running and cuddling.”

The biggest negative impact on wellbeing was the emotional pain people felt when their pet passed away or they had to make the decision to put them to sleep, she added. Other negatives, according to survey results, were allergies to their fur/hair, asthma, and stress associated with pet behaviour problems or mess in the house.

“Another key source of worry was ageing pets or pets that were ill and required expensive vet treatment, particularly where owners did not have the funds to cover treatment. On occasions, this dictates decisions they must make about their pets’ lives,” said Ms Moore.

“Several survey participants said that having a pet was the only thing that kept them alive during tough times.”

All survey outcomes can be viewed here:  https://hsedr.org.au/index.php/survey-the-positives-and-negatives-of-pet-ownership/

* The survey received 82 responses over the age of 30 from members of Hope Springs Eternal Dog Rescue’s social media community.

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