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Hi!
I work in animal rescue and a friend of mine asked me this morning for some help. His mom is 80 years old and has Alzheimer's. She wants a dog, and he thinks it would be great for her. They have always had dogs and she loves them. I told him a therapy dog trained to live with an Alzheimer's patient would be wonderful. He agreed. She lives in a pet friendly condo, and would like a small dog that doesn't shed. I told him that all dogs shed except maybe a poodle or Chinese Crested. Does anyone know of any organizations that can assist her in getting a therapy dog? She lives in Michigan. If you can help, please comment. Thank you so much and God be with you all.

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I own 3 therapy dogs and was also a tester for new teams. Therapy dogs usually refer to owner/dog teams that visit facilities to bring some comfort and entertainment for the residents. We do that and also visit reading programs for elementary students to practice their reading skills to the dogs. To have a dog "trained" for a dementia patient would be difficult because there are so many different needs. Your friend probably just wants a pet for his mother. But I will have to agree with others, that may not be the best idea. I have seen too many dogs surrended to shelters because their elderly owner passed away or had to go to NH where dogs are not allowed. My dad is in one, but family pets are allowed to visit, just not allowed to live there. Perhaps this might work for mom, or maybe the facility can have therapy dog teams visit so she can get her snuggles in.
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The local senior center refers people to a free service that brings therapy dogs to visit the elderly homebound or in facilities. The dog owner brings their own therapy dog to the visit, the elder pets the dog, and the dog goes home with it's owner.
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Sadly, I agree with FreqFlyer. Even the best trained therapy dog needs a human that can properly provide for its needs.

With Alzheimer's it isn't just a question of becoming more forgetful- dementia comes into play and the dogs human over feeds, under feeds, feeds inappropriate food, can become fearful of the dog and on and on. If the mom has someone living with her to ensure the dog is being cared for properly this might be a workable situation. But this person also needs to be willing to care for the dog on their own should the mom need to move to a care facility.

Dogs are such wonderful creatures- so loving, devoted and loyal. Their eagerness to please and protect in addition to their many other attributes make them an excellent example for humans, in my opinion. Creatures such as these deserve to be taken care of and loved until the end of their days - they will do the same for their humans - so it's only fair. Far, far too many dogs belonging to the elderly end up abandoned in shelters after they've lived up to their end of the bargain but their human can do longer do the same.

As you say you help rescue dogs - I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Please urge your friend to think this all the way through before the they make a commitment they can't keep.
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Getting a dog sounds like a great idea BUT in reality it is not. Mom could get a dog and next year would be unable to take care of the dog due to her Alzheimer's advancing.

When that happens, Mom forgets to feed the dog, and gives food to the dog that would be harmful, like chocolate. Mom would forget to take the dog out for bathroom duty, thus the dog would go to the bathroom in the house. Mom could also become angry at the dog for no reason which would confuse the poor thing.

Even if Mom could take the dog outside for bathroom breaks, is she able to bend down to clean up after the dog? If not, the condo Board of Directors might fine her or ask her to remove the dog.

Small dogs are trip hazards as with Alzheimer's/Dementia the patient become more of a fall risk.

Too many dogs are now in animal shelters because their elder owner passed on, and the family is unable to take in the dog, or there is no family left :(
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