Atila and Argi are a pair of greyhound puppies.

While other puppies of their breed are trained to race, these two have been trained to help certain members of the human race – people with intellectual disabilities and mental health conditions that make it challenging for them to interact with others.

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Social workers and nurses with the patients at the Benito Menni psychiatric facility in Elizondo, Spain. Image Source: REUTERS/Susana Vera

The eight-month-old pups are therapy dogs: they help their humans by providing them with a calming effect as well as an emotional outlet, and this allows the humans to develop social skills and independence.

Greyhounds, despite being able to run at speeds in excess of 70km/h, are known to be quiet, docile, loving and even lazy, when not chasing rabbits.

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Which means Atila and Argi are ideal companions for the patients at Benito Menni psychiatric facility, which is tucked away in Spain’s Pyrenees Mountains in a town near the border with France.

The pups are trained to respond to their humans according to their needs: They are animated when playing with active humans, and keep still when with those for whom movement is difficult.

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David Villanueva, a 44-year-old patient at Benito Menni, playing with Argi. What does the young greyhound mean to the human? “Care,” says Villanueva. Image Source: REUTERS/Susana Vera

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Uxua Lazkanotegi, head nurse of the facility, told Reuters that the greyhounds are cared for entirely by the patients.

The patients groom the greyhounds, feed them, and also take them for walks to the nearby village, where they are great for breaking the ice between the patients and villagers.

“They are in charge of the dogs 24 hours a day,” said Lazkanotegi.

Such is the dogs’ life for Atila and Argi. But their humans would probably call it puppy love.

Top Image: REUTERS/Susana Vera