Four MHS Therapy Dog Volunteers visited the residents at Genesis Healthcare’s Keene Center to celebrate National Puppy Day. Amy Lawrence, the facility’s Activities Director contacted MHS to ask for the special event visit. “Of course, we couldn’t bring actual puppies,” said Amee Abel, MHS’ Community Outreach Coordinator, “because dogs must be at least a year old before they can be registered as therapy dogs.”
Still, the residents enjoyed meeting an assortment of dogs including Golden Retrievers, a
Labrador Retriever, and a Standard Poodle. Genesis Healthcare Keene Center receives regular visits from a lovely Therapy Dog named Casey (a pug mix) but for Puppy Day, Ms. Lawrence wanted to shake things up a bit. “Our residents love dogs,” she says.
Getting the dogs to pose well for a photo was beyond the skill of the photographer at hand, but you can see that everyone was having a good time. Pictured from left are Barb K. & Rio, Genesis staff Linda and Amy L., Tom K & Paris, and Sally H. and Emmy. Camera shy ThD Volunteers Marion H. and Dick H. and Elle also visited.
Don’t confuse these dogs with other support animals: therapy dogs are pet dogs who have been well-trained and encouraged to be social. Their job is to wag their tails and make people feel better. At Genesis Healthcare this past week, the dogs visited in both the common room areas, and then made special visits to see residents who weren’t feeling well enough to get out of bed. One resident told us that one of the dogs looked just like the dog she had owned years ago. Another woman winked and laughed as she told Emmy the Lab, “I know you’re just wondering if I have a treat for you.” Emmy replied with a wag of her tail.
“It’s wonderful that we can do this,” said Sally Harvey, Emmy’s owner. It takes just a bit of our time, and the people we visit enjoy it and so does the dog. But, boy, after an hour, you can see that she’s pooped.”
For people who have interest in learning more about volunteering with their dogs, Monadnock Humane Society offers a monthly meeting, Monadnock Therapy Pets. “It’s a support group for the people in the area who are doing this work,” says Abel. “The meetings are free and open to the public, though we do ask you not to bring your dog to the first meeting you attend.” Every month the meeting is a little different, but generally includes a chance to learn about different programs and visits people are doing, visits from local facilities who are wanting dog visits, and a chance to meet some of the MHS therapy dog volunteers. The meetings are on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Training Center at Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey, NH.