IMG_2413There have been countless studies done on how companion animals like dogs and cats affect our human body, mind and spirit in positive ways.

We know patting a dog or cat lowers blood pressure and releases the happy hormones like oxytocin into our bloodstreams. We know those people with dogs are more likely to be fitter than those without dogs (yes, walking your dog is a health benefit for both of you) and more likely to get their required 15 minutes of sun each day for adequate levels of Vitamin D.

We also know that therapy animals, of any kind, are of huge benefit to the welfare of the elderly in aged care, in dementia wards and within children’s wards in hospitals. To promote these benefits, each year Natureluster founder Stacey Demarco will be giving one special person with their suitable companion dog a chance to win the fees for Therapy Dog training paid for them and their companion dog. Click here for more information about “Indi’s Gift.”

“Indi’s Gift” is a grant named in honour of Stacey’s dog Indiana who trained as a Therapy Dog. As Indi was a big dog, she did work in adult dementia units where she was able to give comfort and to prompt patients to remember their own pets and pasts in a positive way. She also worked with adults who had disabilities. Indi was a rescue dog and a dog that came to Stacey as a cruelty case: “ When I adopted Indi she was lucky that she had survived. She was so thin that she was losing hair, she had scars on her ears and face from being in dog fights and used to hunt pigs. She had to fight for any food she could get. Yet, she loved humans and became a patient, intuitive and happy dog who loved her therapy job. People never remembered my name when we came to visit a facility but they always remembered hers!”

Indi passed away at the age of 16 in March 2013, and Indi’s Gift is a way of honouring her joyful spirit.