Pensioners share their delight as they are visited by puppies at Christmas

A charity has shared heartwarming photographs of pensioners meeting adorable dogs at Christmas time to stop them feeling lonely.

Wag and Company’s pioneering service sees owners and their pets visit pensioners’ homes to help combat loneliness.

The charity, based in the North East of England, was formed in May 2016 by Diane Morton, 57, after she saw her father struggle with Alzheimer’s – and it has helped set up more than 66,000 social calls since. 

One pensioner who has benefited from the scheme is John Robson, from Northumberland, who lost his wife Nora of 64-years two years ago and also his 20-year-old border terrier, Mick. 

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A charity has shared heartwarming photographs of pensioners (pictured) meeting adorable dogs at Christmas time to stop them feeling lonely

A charity has shared heartwarming photographs of pensioners (pictured) meeting adorable dogs at Christmas time to stop them feeling lonely

A charity has shared heartwarming photographs of pensioners (pictured) meeting adorable dogs at Christmas time to stop them feeling lonely

North East-based Wag and Company's pioneering service sees owners and their pets visit pensioners' homes (pictured) to help combat loneliness

North East-based Wag and Company's pioneering service sees owners and their pets visit pensioners' homes (pictured) to help combat loneliness

 North East-based Wag and Company’s pioneering service sees owners and their pets visit pensioners’ homes (pictured) to help combat loneliness

One pensioner who has benefited from the scheme is John Robson (pictured right), from Northumberland. In March 2018 Visiting Wag Team, Sean (left) and Alfie the Labrador started visiting him - and he says it made his life worth living again

One pensioner who has benefited from the scheme is John Robson (pictured right), from Northumberland. In March 2018 Visiting Wag Team, Sean (left) and Alfie the Labrador started visiting him - and he says it made his life worth living again

One pensioner who has benefited from the scheme is John Robson (pictured right), from Northumberland. In March 2018 Visiting Wag Team, Sean (left) and Alfie the Labrador started visiting him – and he says it made his life worth living again

In March 2018 Visiting Wag Team, Sean and Alfie the Labrador started visiting John, 89, after a referral from his GP – and he says it made his life worth living again.

‘Before… I had nothing but four walls. Life just seemed nothing at all. I didn’t know where I was going to go from there,’ John recalled.

‘I met Sean and his dog Alfie and we just clicked. Life seemed as though it really picked up. It’s really fabulous. The friendship we have is out of this world. I really feel like a real person now.’

He added: ‘I was nothing and I’ve got everything now. They’ve made my life twice as good as it ever was. I can’t even thank them enough. 

‘It’s a really wonderful world now, for me. I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am to these people. Loneliness, it’s despicable. It’s a horrible disease that you want to get rid of but you don’t know what to do to get rid of it.’

The charity was formed in May 2016 by Diane Morton (pictured with John) after she saw her father struggle with Alzheimer's - and it has helped set up more than 66,000 social calls since

The charity was formed in May 2016 by Diane Morton (pictured with John) after she saw her father struggle with Alzheimer's - and it has helped set up more than 66,000 social calls since

The charity was formed in May 2016 by Diane Morton (pictured with John) after she saw her father struggle with Alzheimer’s – and it has helped set up more than 66,000 social calls since

Volunteers and their dogs visited pensioners across the festive season to deliver a little extra Christmas spirit

Volunteers and their dogs visited pensioners across the festive season to deliver a little extra Christmas spirit

Volunteers and their dogs visited pensioners across the festive season to deliver a little extra Christmas spirit

Visiting across 12 unitary authorities of the North East, Wag and Company has 340 volunteers known as Visiting Wag Teams (made up of an owner and their pet) that go and spend time with people aged over 65 (pictured)

Visiting across 12 unitary authorities of the North East, Wag and Company has 340 volunteers known as Visiting Wag Teams (made up of an owner and their pet) that go and spend time with people aged over 65 (pictured)

Visiting across 12 unitary authorities of the North East, Wag and Company has 340 volunteers known as Visiting Wag Teams (made up of an owner and their pet) that go and spend time with people aged over 65 (pictured) 

Volunteers and their dogs visited pensioners across the festive season to deliver a little extra Christmas spirit. 

Visiting across 12 unitary authorities of the North East, Wag and Company has 340 volunteers known as Visiting Wag Teams (made up of an owner and their pet).

Currently, 2518 elderly people benefit from the charity and 246 volunteers are visiting care and medical establishments. 

A further hundred people visit individuals in their own homes, an idea unique to Wag and Company – which is supported by local companies and previously, a National Lottery grant.

Currently, 2518 elderly people (seen above) benefit from the charity and 246 volunteers are visiting care and medical establishments

Currently, 2518 elderly people (seen above) benefit from the charity and 246 volunteers are visiting care and medical establishments

Currently, 2518 elderly people (seen above) benefit from the charity and 246 volunteers are visiting care and medical establishments

A further hundred people visit individuals in their own homes, an idea unique to Wag and Company - which is supported by local companies and previously, a National Lottery grant. Pictured: A dog visiting his elderly friend

A further hundred people visit individuals in their own homes, an idea unique to Wag and Company - which is supported by local companies and previously, a National Lottery grant. Pictured: A dog visiting his elderly friend

A further hundred people visit individuals in their own homes, an idea unique to Wag and Company – which is supported by local companies and previously, a National Lottery grant. Pictured: A dog visiting his elderly friend

These coasters were sent out to pensioners for Christmas and featured a picture of their visiting dog

These coasters were sent out to pensioners for Christmas and featured a picture of their visiting dog

These coasters were sent out to pensioners for Christmas and featured a picture of their visiting dog 

Running with the help of volunteers, the charity hopes to expand its team to 1000 by 2030

Running with the help of volunteers, the charity hopes to expand its team to 1000 by 2030

One of the adorable volunteer dogs

One of the adorable volunteer dogs

Running with the help of volunteers, the charity hopes to expand its team to 1000 by 2030. Pictured: Some of the volunteer dogs

Diane, who started the charity with her husband, explained how her father often didn’t recognise his daughter but would know their dog.

‘It’s amazing the power of a dog when you are ill,’ said Diane. ‘‘I wanted to make it happen for other people who are isolated or bereaved.

‘There’s quite a lot to it but the most important thing is pretty straightforward, a chat and a cuddle with a lovely dog for our elderly friends, a couple of hours every week or fortnight.

She added: ‘If we are to come anywhere near to meeting the need, just in our region, we must be able to continuously recruit special dog owners and to fundraise sustainably to pay primarily for the staff required to enable an effectively safeguarded service. 

‘Initially in the North East – within 18 months we will have decided if and how to enable Wag’s lovely friendships nationally.’

Running with the help of volunteers, the charity hopes to expand its team to 1000 by 2030. 

Link hienalouca.com

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