Nursing Home Visits

Therapy work is great fun. We go to a local nursing home to interact with the patients. They really seem to enjoy it. Some of them won't come out of their rooms for anything else.

We put on demonstrations of obedience, agility, and tricks. Some of the residents enjoyed the demos so much they wanted to go to a real dog show. Since there are not any shows held locally, I arranged a show-n-go at the nursing home. It was a success as far as both residents and handlers were concerned.

Shy dogs had many willing hands to gently pet them as they overcame their initial hesitations. Puppies' antics were laughed at by everyone. Seasoned working dogs got new life from the relaxed atmosphere. Elderly residents shared stories of their pets. New handlers practised without nervousness.

When it was all over everyone went back inside to visit with residents that were not physically able to come outside. They too got to pet and enjoy the well mannered dogs as they toured the home.

During the Christmas season Sasha pulls a sleigh through the halls. For Halloween we to the nursing home in the afternoon to trick or treat. I don't think I have ever seen so many smiles. Elderly residents who usually never even grin came out of their rooms laughing. It seems that a silly looking pet dressed in a Halloween costume is more than they can resist.

The menagerie is better than physical therapy when it comes to getting elderly patients to use their arthritic fingers. Everyone wants to hold or pet at least one of the animals. Some people who normally won't leave their rooms come out into the halls or to the rec room when they know we are coming. They want to be able to interact with the crew as long as possible.

It gives them something to think about too. They have no reason to stay mentally active when they see the same faces and walls every day. With the guys and gals though they try very hard to remember names and ages and sexes. They are so proud when they succeed.

The elderly are desparate to pet/hold/cuddle any warm furry thing. I know that the elderly ladies that hold and pet my rat would never have done so when they were younger but now they enjoy him. If any of you get a chance to do pet therapy, I highly recommend it.

Susan Ann Tipton, Gainesville, Florida, USA /

Sasha's Christmas Therapy Story

My mom was asked to write an article about pet sharing for this newsletter. She was having problems figuring out what to write so I decided to help her. My name is Sasha and I am a miniature poodle.

I visit a nursing home once a month with my mom and my siblings (Pixie the cat, Roger and Ariel the rabbits). Mom drives us there so we can visit the residents. It's lots of fun. Everyone smiles. They take turns petting us. Some of them hold us.

We try to look our best whenever we go but for Christmas we really get fancy. Pixie wears a fancy collar. Mom wears a dress. The bunny boys hate clothes so they stay home. Grandma comes to visit and goes with us. Jessie the sheltie and her mom come dressed in their holiday best.

Of course my outfit is the best I get dressed up as Rudolph. I wear a red cape, a Santa hat, and antlers. Dad wired up an lighted nose for me. Mom made a sleigh. I look really cute but I would rather be naked.

Have you ever worn a light on your nose? Everywhere you look this red thing is glowing right there on the end of your nose. I go cross eyed trying to see it. Mom won't let me rub it off in the dirt so I rub it against the seam of her pants. She hasn't figured out that I am trying to get it off that way yet.

As soon as Mom hooks up the sleigh I forget about my nose. It follows me everywhere I go. For the first few minutes I spin round and round trying to see what is behind me. Every time I turn it runs behind me so I can never see what it is. For three years now it has run faster than I have, this year I am going to beat it.

When we are all ready and I have stopped spinning we go into the rec room. Everyone looks at our fancy clothes. We are too cute. Then we go out to the halls to visit those who couldn't come to the rec room. Grandma passes out candy canes. The residents look at me and laugh. They get to pet Pixie and Shelley. Everyone enjoys it.

We circle back to the rec room where I get to take my harness and my nose off. Then I can get petted too. We visit for a little while more. When we finally leave everyone is tired and happy. We have brought a little holiday cheer into their hearts we hope. We know we at least gave them a smile.

Happy Holidays!

Susan's Sassy Sasha, Gainesville, Florida, USA /