A giant Newfoundland dog called Dash has become big friends with care home residents in Caernarfon.
Weighing in at more than 10st and standing three feet tall at the shoulders, Dash is a popular visitor to the Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre on the outskirts of town.
So much so, that he’s won a competition to find the cutest pet belonging to a member of staff at the Pendine Park care organisation or a relative to one of the residents.
The eight-year-old pooch is owned by senior nurse Debbie Parry and is a firm with the residents who enjoy stroking and cuddling up to their huge canine buddy.
Debbie, 43, who has worked at Bryn Seiont Newydd for more than four years, loves seeing how residents react to Dash whenever she takes him for a visit.
She said: “The residents’ faces light up and he has a remarkable effect on their wellbeing. A relatively new resident walked about with his head down and I never saw him smile or react to anything really until I took Dash in.
“His face just lit up and he couldn’t stop stroking and petting Dash. It clearly had a big impact on him. Now whenever I take Dash to Bryn Seiont he makes a bee-line for him.
“It’s really good for people living with dementia to enjoy the experience of seeing and interacting with dogs and other animals. Many will have had pets themselves in the past.
“The fact Dash is so big doesn’t seem to worry them at all. However, I would say although he’s a big dog, he is super friendly, very calm and just loves cuddles.”
Debbie was delighted Dash was crowned Bryn Seiont’s cutest pet following a vote among staff.
She said: “The idea behind the competition was just a bit of fun for staff. It’s been a tough year because of all we have been through due to the health crisis. So, we submitted pictures of our pets and everyone got to vote for their favourite.
“I’m so proud of Dash winning but everyone at Bryn Seiont knows and loves him anyway. He is the softest, gentlest dog you could imagine.”
The Newfoundland breed originates from Canada where they are working dogs used by fishermen.
Known for their intelligence, they are also excellent swimmers and even have webbed paws as well as a double layer of thick fur.
Their enormous size and immense strength helps them to pull fishing boats to shore as well as excelling at water rescues.
But despite his huge muscular build Dash does as he is told and isn’t even top dog in the Parry household.
Debbie added: “We also have a 13-year-old Labrador and she soon puts Dash in his place if he steps out of line.
“He’s allowed into the lounge at home in the evening and just wants to be cuddled. He’s incredibly loyal. My two children use him as a pillow while they watch TV.
According to Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans, Dash is always welcome at the care home.
She said: “It’s so nice and you can really see how even non-verbal residents get excited when the see him come in.
“Debbie would never force Dash onto a resident but if those that like dogs make it clear they want to interact with Dash then she allows them to stroke and cuddle him. And Dash just laps up all the attention, he clearly enjoys himself.”
She added: “It’s been a difficult year with Covid-19 so anything we can do to stimulate residents is a good thing. Many residents will have had pets, particularly dogs, so it helps them. They clearly benefit from Dash’s visits – and of course I like seeing him too!”