Zeus was an older rescue dog with a reputation as an escape artist. However, this rescue dog has now found his place, in Cameron Park aged care home in Newcastle. Although he’s not a god, like his namesake, Zeus is still using his powers to bring joy to the lives of the residents.
‘The joy he’s brought to this home, the companionship has been incredible. He’s really changed a lot of lives of our residents,’ Lauren Abbott, lifestyle coordinator at Cameron Park told 9News.
Zeus may be a senior dog, however, his youthful vigor saw him escape from multiple homes in the past, according to Dog Rescue Newcastle volunteer Bec Lee.
“He’s jumped many fences at previous homes that we didn’t think was possible for a 9-year-old dog to do,” says Bec.
Since being at the aged care home, Zeus’s escape antics have been kept in check. This may be due to the attention and care he gets from the many residents at Cameron Park. One such resident is Anne, who lost her husband at Christmas time 2021. Zeus has helped Anne through the grieving process, according to Abbott.
“He just ran up to her and started licking her,” says Lauren, “It was the first time we’d seen her smile in a long time.”
Anne couldn’t agree more, saying that Zeus is a “gorgeous, he’s such a lovely dog”.
Zeus also helped bring resident Millie out of her shell. Prior to meeting the lovable dog, Millie spent much of her time in her room. Now, Millie spends a lot of time out her room, taking Zeus for walks. “He sleeps in my room,” she confessed.
Allowing pets in aged care facilities brings joy to both residents and animals. The Animal Welfare League (AWL) of New South Wales advocate for elderly people engaging with animals, as they say it increases quality of life by reducing tension and fatigue. Pet ownership is also proven to increase lifespan. In Australia, over 200,000 dogs enter shelters each year, with 20% of those euthanised. Let’s hope there will be an increase in the amount of pets allowed to live out their golden years in aged care homes with residents just like Zeus.
“[Zeus is] always there, even if the other residents are tired or in bed asleep, he’s always ready for a chat and a walk. He gives me a feeling of comfort,” one of the residents said.