Canine Therapy for the Third Generation

The Ibizan Hound joins forces with the Senior Citizen.

• The Santa Eulalia Senior Residential Complex introduces the Podenco Ibicenco to their third age therapy programme

• High rates of success among the senior citizens have already been reported from the activities with the island’s hunting dog, a descent of the Egyptian Hound and native to Ibiza since 654 a.d

Ibiza, 2010 – With their intelligent and fiercely loyal nature, the Podenco Ibicenco, the Ibiza Hound, was the obvious choice for La Associació de Cans Eivissencs Solidaris- the Ibiza Hound Association, when it came to picking a breed for their new therapy sessions with the in-patients of the Santa Eulalia Senior Residential Complex in Ibiza.

The Complex, which prides itself on maintaining high morale amongst its residents, devised the programme after research on canine therapy showed positive effects on senior citizens in similar centres elsewhere, with results proving that contact and interaction with the animal kingdom vastly improved the wellbeing of most patients involved with the treatment. In collaboration with the Canine Association on the island, the Senior Complex now runs the therapy sessions for its residents three times a month.

The initiative encourages visual and tactual stimulation through canine interaction, and has already shown positive results among the elderly at the residential centre, with carers reporting an increase in awareness and general wellbeing amongst the patients since the introduction of the programme some months ago.

The Podenco Ibicenco.
The island of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands is famed for many things, amongst them its beauty, its nightlife and its world heritage. But it is also the natural habitat for the Podenco Ibicenco, the Ibizan Hound, sa Ca Eivissenc- the graceful hunting dog that has roamed the island since 654 a.d and which these days continues to both live in packs in the wilds of the north of Ibiza and more commonly, as a domestic pet in many families of Ibiza, France and, if less frequently, further afield.

Honey and cream coloured, the characteristics of the agile, lean hunter have shown it to be both an affectionate and fiercely loyal pet. Antonio Pedro Marí, President of the Ibiza Canine Society, described the podenco as ‘a very versatile dog’, one which ‘in times gone by, was believed to be untamable, but is now seen as a very obedient and loyal animal.’
Graceful and athletic in the one, the hound is an attractive one, with its long neck, laid back shoulders and striking amber ears. A bit of a clown, generally quiet, if quick on the update as far as a rabbit is concerned, the Ibizan Hounds with their active and engaging nature are great with children and therefore a popular choice with local Ibiza families.
All in all, they seemed the perfect choice for the Canine Therapy Sessions at the Santa Eulalia Senior Residential Complex.

The Therapy Sessions
Old age is something that comes to us all, a stage of life that can prove a complicated time for many, often requiring more than the average prescription medicine to encourage better wellbeing.

It is not uncommon that in-patients at any residential centre experience some level of difficulty adapting to their new surroundings. Loneliness can be rife as patients learn to live amongst new people, many of them with physical and mental limitations.

Staff at the Santa Eulalia Complex, fully aware of these difficulties, devised the plan to introduce canine therapy to their rehabilitation programme after researching the subject together with La Associació de Cans Eivissencs Solidaris and its president, Antonio Marí.

‘Physical contact with the animals has a way of stimulating the older generation, encouraging a better sense of emotional, mental and by proxy, physical state,’ is how Mari describes the one-hour sessions with the podencos. On a thrice-monthly basis, volunteers of the association take a number of the dogs to the residential centre where patients are encouraged to make physical contact with them. Trained to the best of their abilities, the presence of the dogs is a familiar reminder of days gone by for many of the complex residents, the majority of them being natives of the island. That sensation of petting the animals is one that seems to resonate well within the group, bringing a different energy to the room- dog whisperer style, if you will.

Currently, sessions with the podencos take place every ten days at the Senior Complex with volunteers from La Associació de Cans Eivissencs Solidaris, the local Ibiza association of the podenco, bringing along 3-4 dogs at a time.

Marta Vilás, Director of the Santa Eulalia Senior Residential Complex, spoke from personal experience of the podenco when she described them as ‘ a highly intelligent animal, and one which has been in the lives of many of our in patients from an early day. This one-on-one contact with the animals in the centre has led to what she describes as ‘ very good results, one example of which is the reaction amongst our Alzheimer patients, who, whilst unaware of what day it is, wake up happier after the podenco sessions, asking about their their visit.’

‘After sessions, we see a notable drop in complaints of pain from the patients, and instead an increase in anecdotes about their experience with the dogs.’ That can only be a good thing, bring on the stories. The Podenco Ibicenco, it would seem, is one more string to the bow of Ibiza, one more aspect of that very magical island, added to the list of ‘Things to make you smile in Ibiza’. That lovely, unending list….

April 4, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized.

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