Meet Reily, the little dog that’s been ‘hired’ for therapy sessions at a care home in Mill Hill.

She’s on the payroll at Aarandale Manor with lots of doggie biscuits and cuddles and is helping one particular resident, 75-year-old Frank Harrod, who is living with early dementia.

The two-year-old Shitzhu quickly became attached to Frank and staff have been amazed at the change in his mindset and wellbeing.

“Reily was just a small ball of fluff the first time I met her,” Frank recalls. “She snuggled up to me for an hour whilst I watched TV.

“I never had a dog and didn’t think I would get attached to any animal — but I have.

“She makes me feel happy and playful and I look forward to her visits and our walk in the garden.”

Reily belongs to the home’s deputy manager Indera Halili and was brought in as a 10-week-old puppy and has since become a regular visitor.

Aarandale Manor’s manager Kirsty Harris said: “We’re not sure what it was but were amazed at how Reily gravitated towards Frank, who was lonely and at times agitated when he first moved into the home.

“But Reily changed all this. It was unbelievable seeing Reily and Frank form such a lovely relationship.”

The dog follows Frank everywhere like his little shadow.

“She has completely changed his outlook on life,” Kirsty added. “Frank’s mindset has shifted and he’s now positive with a zest for life.”

Alongside Reily is a Jack Russell called Lily, who is a registered emotional support animal. 

The 65-bed Aarandale Manor is using animal-assisted therapy for those with dementia. Animals can help with cognitive and memory skills which may include remembering their own pet’s name or evoke happy memories. 

Lily is trained and “emotionally tuned” to the needs of the residents and has a positive impact on the home. She never approaches a resident unless they called her over, which is part of her training, so they feel safe in her company.

Some residents with dementia are unable to communicate with staff — but they will sit with a dog who makes them calm and happy.