Duke the dog bringing a smile to Rockingham seniors


Hugh Lewis with Duke.
Hugh Lewis with Duke.

IN HIS own unique way, Duke is making a real difference to the lives of some seniors in Rockingham.

Duke, along with his sister Ruby, are two canines making weekly visits to residents at MercyCare Rockingham as part of a pet therapy program.

The program has been tailored to enhance the health and wellbeing of residents.

Owners of the great dane and johnson bulldog, Peta and Ewen Cockerill, said Duke and Ruby had struck a chord with residents.

Duke, who also has his own Instagram page, started visiting residents last year.

They adopted Duke as a five-month-old pup after he was dumped at the local pound.

“Duke has such a lovely nature that he’s a perfect fit for pet therapy,” Mrs Cockerill said.

“If he was a person he would be an English aristocrat.”

Mrs Cockerill said they jumped at the chance to volunteer time to share their beloved pets with others.

“The residents just light up when they see Duke and Ruby,” she said.

“The smiles they bring are really lovely. They really connect with the old folk and enjoy all the pats, cuddles and attention.”

MercyCare volunteer co-ordinator Janine Morrison said the dogs’ visits made noticeable differences.

“The feedback we have received has been really positive,” she said.

“The residents really love the visits. You get some really heart-warming smiles. It’s so good for the soul.

“Research shows that pet therapy offers significant health benefits by encouraging socialisation, particularly for residents living with dementia.

“The visits also offer sensory engagement for our residents who are hearing and vision impaired. They can engage with the animals through touch, pat and play.”