Monaco’s therapy dogs

Monaco Paws is delighted to meet the K9s and their companions from Chien de Coeur, the Monaco-registered association that provides therapy animals to the elderly around Monaco 

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Ruth Archer and her Carin Terrier, Bramble; Patricia Turkmen with Honey her French Bulldog; and Tonka sitting between Sabine and Patrick Thienpont.

Can you tell us about Chien de Coeur?
We are a group of people with friendly, well-educated and sociable dogs which we take for therapy visits to the Gerontology Unit Princesse Grace Hospital, as well as two retirement homes around Monaco, La Qietudine and Residence Cap Fleuri.

Are the dogs specially trained?
We make sure that the dogs are in good health, calm, well-mannered and will never bite, but there is no other special training.  They just need to be good and happy dogs.

When did it start?
We began in 2013 and have been going strong since then.  In 2014 we became an official partner of the Princesse Grace Hospital.

How do the visits help the sick and elderly?
For some people we are the only visitors they get each week.  Sometimes being with the dogs is helpful for the patients in their recovery too.  The dogs bring back fond memories and happiness which make them feel better.

What do the dogs do during the visits?
Mostly they just sit with the people and they hold and pet the dogs.  Little ones can sit on their laps.

Do the elderly people and hospital patients appreciate the visits?
We give them an hour of sunshine.  The dogs act as a bridge and help engage the patients.  Many people are separated from their own dogs when they are in the hospital or retirement home. This way they can connect with the love they give and receive from their own pets.

Do the dogs enjoy the visits?
They love it, they know they are doing a special service.

What is the inspiration behind ‘Chien de Coeur’?
On the streets you just see happy people, but behind the walls their are many people who are very alone.  This work does not just help the patients, but it brings us and our dogs a lot of happiness and good feelings.

Where can people find out more about your work?
People can see our website to find out more and contact us if they would like to get involved.

Article first published May 22, 2016.

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