A Yorkton woman and her two dogs have been helping retirement home dementia patients.

When Deb McInnes’ husband was recovering from hip replacement surgery at Saskatoon City Hospital, she would bring their dogs, Zach and Willow, for a visit.

“I started taking Willow in for visits and Willow is just an outstanding dog. She’s really friendly and the nurses started taking her to visit other patients,” McInnes said.

One of the nurses then encouraged her to have her pets registered as official therapy dogs.

Since then McInnes and her dogs have been helping dementia patients in Yorkton.

Zach and Willow visit the Yorkton and District Nursing Home for two hours once a week.

Ben Devrie’s wife Mariam was diagnosed with dementia last year. He says they look forward to their time with the dogs.

“It’s a real nice to see Mariam playing with a dog, and even myself. I love playing with animals,” he said.

Retirement home staff says the therapy can improve cardiovascular health, release positive endorphins and overall make people happier.

“If pets were in their past, they can delve back into their long-term memory, so then when the pets come they remember their life before,” said Suzzane Beck, health services manager at the Yorkton and District Nursing Home.

Based on reporting from CTV’s Alessandra Carneiro