What do dogs have to do with Caritas? At first glance, not too much. But on the occasion of World Dog Day this Tuesday, a closer look shows that dogs can certainly enrich life in Caritas facilities.
Interviewer: You run the day care center at the Caritas Altenzentrum St. Maternus in Cologne-Rodenkirchen and no longer go to work without their mongrel dog "Ralfi. How do the elderly people react when you enter the room with "Ralfi"??
Anna Mysliwietz (head of day care at Caritas Altenzentrum St. Maternus in Cologne-Rodenkirchen): Our guests in the day care are actually already used to the fact that "Ralfi" is always there. He is cheerful and greets them every day when they come here from the bus to the rooms of the day care. "Ralfi" plays ball with guests while we keep them busy. He lets himself be petted, lets guests cuddle with him. They just love him. He influences them very positively. And because the guests are often lonely and alone at home, playing or cuddling with "Ralfi" is a joyful moment.
Interviewer: How do you explain that?
Mysliwietz: I think to myself, many guests in my day care had animals themselves as a child or later on. Now they are older and can practically no longer perform the tasks at home because they are not so fit. And "Ralfi" brings life and a lot of joy every day. He wags his little tail, he barks at them when they play with the ball, for example, and then they laugh. You can see how the eyes of my guests light up. This has a very positive effect on the motor skills of these people, even when they bend over or pet the dog. I find this very positive and would advise every institution to integrate animals.
Interviewer: Of course, you always have to think about the welfare of the dog as well. But as you described it, it seems that "Ralfi" is also doing quite well in these situations, isn't he??
Mysliwietz: I think for "Ralfi" this is a very important task. He is like an employee and knows his duties. He also protects us here as a group and likewise the residents of the house. For example, I recently came to work when construction workers came towards us and he barked at them. He protects our house and he also feels very safe and totally comfortable here. I think the residents and the guests feel the same way.
The interview was conducted by Verena Troster.