In this beautiful photograph, Amaroo Aged Care facility resident Gertrude, is shown cuddling her favourite dog ‘Bella’

The benefits of pet therapy for the aged are universally accepted: pets provide joy, stimulation and increased physical and mental health.

So it was, back in 2014 that ‘Bella’, the beautiful little bundle of joy, of the Bichon Frise breed, arrived on the doorsteps at Amaroo Aged Care facility in Dudley Road, Charlestown.

Bella is just one of the boys at Amaroo Aged care facility

Four years later and any visitor to Amaroo can witness first hand the enjoyment and benefit residents derive from pet therapy.  

So what does Bella do whilst at work, we hear you ask? Well, currently the majority of Bella’s day is spent visiting the residents in their rooms for one-on-

one time. There are a few residents who opt out of these visits for personal reasons, but on the whole, room visits are overwhelmingly popular.

In fact, it can take a couple of days to make the rounds of the community, as most residents find it difficult to say goodbye!

Trudy Payton with her favourite, and everyone else’s favourite dog, Bella

Bella’s effect on the community has far exceeded the expectations of the facility.

Everyone adores Bella! Visiting family members come looking for her, and the grandkids and great-grandkids make her things and bring her toys. In fact, no one asks for Trudy Payton anymore, or even says hello, they just want to know where the dog is!

However, for all the benefits of Amaroo’s sweet, live-in therapy dog, it couldn’t happen without a huge commitment from Trudy, as much of Bella’s care is undertaken voluntarily by Trudy in her spare time. Bella lives with her out of hours, and all bathing and grooming is done on the weekend.