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Pet Therapy Brightens Each Day at Waveny

Pet Therapy Brightens Each Day at Waveny

Posted on March 18, 2014

Resident Elma Fay with MecaMarissa Perkins and Lola with resident JoeResident Dorothy Peisinger and Rose Pirie with Bingo and Diane Muldowney

Each week Waveny’s Pet Therapy volunteers bring their dogs to Waveny to brighten and lift the spirits of Waveny’s patients and residents.  Animal-assisted activities are widely recognized to have therapeutic effects like reducing stress and calming anxiety. Visits help to improve mood, reduce loneliness, and encourage residents to become more physically and emotionally relaxed. Waveny’s loyal and lovable four-legged friends never fail to put smiles on faces.

 "It’s always very rewarding to see a person smile or talk about their pets when Meca and I visit," said Michelle Dore, owner of Meca, a regular furry visitor to Waveny. “We are a team. The residents pet and cuddle Meca while I talk to them and ask them about their day.”

While not required be certified as a pet therapy dogs, each dog visiting Waveny for pet therapy must be friendly, non-aggressive, and appropriately trained.  “In order to be part of the program, all the dogs must be clean, well-groomed, healthy and up-to date on immunizations,” said Debbie Perron, Director of Volunteers at Waveny.

When Marisa Perkins adopted Lola, a rescue dog with a quiet, patient temperament, she knew that Lola was special.  “She looks at you as if she knows everything you are thinking and every emotion you are feeling.  I knew she had to be a therapy dog,” said Marissa.  When Marissa and Lola visited Waveny’s special care unit one day, two residents pet Lola with assistance from the nurse and Marissa.  “She is very pretty,” said one resident with advanced dementia, and then the other said, “I love her.”  Marissa only realized Lola’s effect when the nurse later told her that those two residents seldom speak.

Bingo, another of Waveny’s therapy dogs, is a three year old black Labrador that Diane Muldowney adopted from the “Puppies behind Bars” program.  Inmates in the program train puppies to become therapy dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome.  Bingo was trained to “sense” and help people cope with loss and depression. “Bingo knows when a person is feeling depressed or sad and will try to comfort them,” said Diane.  “He will lay his head down for them to pet and to run their fingers through his fur.”

Waveny thanks all of its volunteers and their four legged friends for offering unconditional love, affection and boundless patience. To learn more about how your pet can brighten someone’s day at Waveny, contact Debbie Perron, Director of Volunteers at 203.594.5334 or [email protected]

Waveny LifeCare Network provides a comprehensive continuum of healthcare to serve the growing needs of older adults from all areas. Waveny is a not-for-profit organization that offers independent living at The Inn, assisted living for people with Alzheimer’s and memory loss at The Village, and skilled nursing at Waveny Care Center. It also includes Waveny Home Healthcare, Waveny at Home the Brown Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, a Geriatric Care Management team that provides 24-hour coverage, an Adult Day Program available on weekdays with flexible hours, inpatient and outpatient Rehabilitation Services, and respite programs at The Village and Care Center. For information call 1-855-WAVENY-1 or visit www.waveny.org.