THEY'RE man's best friend through the good times and the bad.
Paws Pet Therapy in Thirlmere has for 14 months been offering a helping paw to people with special needs, to people undergoing chemotherapy, to the elderly in nursing homes, and to people with dementia and to people who are just lonely.
Now 15 groups in Wollondilly are lining up to use the four-legged therapy service, but this not-for-profit group doesn't have enough volunteers or sponsors to provide the therapy.
Campbelltown Hospital and Macarthur Disability Services have both taken an interest in the service.
Taara Gardens aged-care facility in Thirlmere has been lucky enough to be paired up with a volunteer and a four-legged friend.
Sharon Stewart, the founder of the pet therapy group and a registered nurse, says pet therapy has come up with results in emotional, psychological and physiological benefits.
And she says the therapy gives people unconditional love.
The group has 12 active dogs and nine volunteers working in the Southern Highlands, but wants to break into Wollondilly.
Mrs Stewart said the therapy has had success with dementia patients.
"They pat the dog, they remember their own dog, they remember their kids, they start talking," she said.
Volunteers are taught how to interact with people with a range of needs when they become part of the pet therapy group with their dog.
Wendy Curry has been volunteering with her poodle cross shitzu Angus.
"He's a loveable dog and doctors and nurses welcome us with open arms," she said.
To be a volunteer or sponsor, call 4681 0499 or email sharon.
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