I am the Activity Director in a small Skilled Nursing Facility in Texas. We have many Alzheimer’s and Dementia residents, in varying stages. We recently had the privilege of having a beautiful 3-year-old beagle in our facility named Rudy.
This was the first time we have had a large therapy animal come to us. We started down one hall and continued around the building. Some of the residents asked if he was special. Why yes! Yes, he is very much so. The spark I saw in the eyes of the residents was one that I will soon not forget.
The most amazing thing was soon to come. We have several residents that are not really verbal anymore for one reason or another. We went into the first resident who only speaks a few words in a month, and he got a huge smile on his face and reached out to pet the big beautiful dog. The resident spoke to him and told him he was a good doggie. He spoke a whole sentence!!!
With a big ole Texas-sized smile we left the resident’s room and went on our way to the next resident who was also nonverbal and also not very social. Well, it did not take long for Rudy to break the ice! The resident asked Rudy’s handlers what the dog’s name was, and what all the dog did, and how they came to get him. The inquisitive nature that I remembered from this particular resident returned, even if only for a brief time.
The last resident I will tell you about is one of the last Rudy visited. This particular resident has completely lost the ability to speak, among other things, and normally has zero reaction to anything we have tried. The resident looked at Rudy and immediately reached out to pet him. Rudy placed his head on the lap of the resident as they continued to feel that soft fur. I could have cried.
Just seeing the joy on all my resident’s faces was the greatest gift that could have been given at that moment. To see people that I would have thought would not even react instead actually interact was the best feeling in the world. The day passed easier and they keep asking when Rudy is coming back. Soon my dears, soon.
– Submitted by an anonymous Activity Director in Texas
Some details have been changed for confidentiality