THE organisation Caring Canines, whose therapy dogs visit hospitals, schools and hospices, have taken on their 500th pooch.

Two-year-old collie cross poodle Maggie recently visited Bourne View care home.

Caring Canines has been visiting Colten Care residents since 2006 beginning with The Aldbury in Parkstone, a dedicated dementia care home. Now, Bourne View will join seven other Colten homes receiving visits, fortnightly or monthly depending on demand."

With Maggie at Bourne View were owner Rachael Seaward and Caring Canines co-founders Sue Dennett and Julie Lankshear.

Sue said: “For care home residents who may have had pets in the past, our dogs can help unlock memories and be great prompts for starting conversations. They bring a bit of magic with them.

"The chance to meet and play with a well-trained dog is really appreciated by those who may be confined to bed or who can’t readily communicate with other people."

Both Ena Potter and Barbara Kemp were overjoyed to have the chance to stroke Maggie and play with her.

“She was beautiful, so soft and cuddly,” said Ena. “I have had dogs all my life and to have one in my arms again was wonderful.”

Barbara agreed, saying: “I had a Jack Russell called Scampi and he was amazingly clever. He even knew how to play hide and seek with my grandchildren. Being visited by Maggie was a lovely treat.”

As well as care homes, Caring Canines volunteers and their therapy dogs visit hospitals, schools and hospices.

Founded in 2006 with 30 members visiting 15 venues, the group has grown to nearly 200 members with 110 regular venues.

There are 140 teams of owners and dogs serving an area stretching from Highcliffe to Upton and up to Verwood.