The human-dog bond is many centuries old, and is an immensely unique one that doesn't exist with any other animal. There are countless stories of how a dog has helped enrich our lives.
Examples include helping a blind person cross the street, giving disabled people independence by retrieving them objects, providing an aged person with calming emotional support during cancer treatment, making a PTSD-suffering combat veteran feel safer by turning on the lights and giving autistic children confidence by acting as a conversation ice-breaker in social settings.
The human-dog bond improves well-being, provides mental & emotional & physical support and saves lives. I want to help solve two problems in our society by harnessing the awesomeness of dogs: (1) re-homing shelter dogs and (2) alleviating loneliness.
Loneliness is a silent epidemic in Australia. More than nine million people are "always or often lonely" and would never admit it to anyone else. Loneliness isn't just unpleasant to deal with, but also possibly harmful to our health.
As someone that struggled with loneliness, a dog was a wonderful companion, was always there for me and showered me with love daily. Dogs are amazing animals that are filled with happiness, friendship and loyalty.
Therefore, my awesome project will help create a new type of service dog: friendship dogs. These dogs help provide friendship, companionship and support to lonely people. But these aren't just any dogs, though. These are dogs from shelters, that were abandoned by their owners. They're also sad, neglected and alone. These dogs would do anything to be put in a home with an owner that cares for it, understands it and appreciates it.
And what better than a person that is also struggling with the same problem? Because a friend in need is a friend indeed.
The Friendship Dog Foundation will pair abandoned dogs from shelters with people feeling lonely.
Funded by Melbourne (February 2017)