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Pet Therapy for Seniors

Pet Therapy for the Elderly

Dogs to the Rescue

During final exam week last Spring, the most stressful week of the school year, the students of Billerica Memorial High School received a wonderful treat. Two therapy dogs named Molly (Yellow Lab) and Lilly (Chocolate Lab) were brought into the school to create a happy and stress-free environment for the students. Molly and Lilly are owned by our business teacher, Ms. Luciano and her close friend, Beth Dushman. Luciano told a story of how she used to own a German Shepard-Black Lab mix rescue dog before Lilly. Although she was lovable, she was not very interactive with other people and not super outgoing. “I wanted a dog that I could share with others and bring people as much joy and happiness my pet would bring to me.” says Luciano. Dushman and Luciano went through an eight week training course called Canine Good Citizen. Passing the first exam prepared them for the final exam that would certify them as “therapy dog teams.” The next exam was the most difficult.

“We went through a grueling, hands-on exam where five people determined whether we would be accepted into their non-profit foundation by going through real world simulations.” says Luciano, “these dogs put in a lot of effort to get them to where they are at today.”

The certification also allows them to visit schools and hospitals or any other situation where they would be interacting with people. These dogs can easily bring a smile to anyone’s face just by simply wagging their tails and that is what makes them so special. Every Monday since the beginning of February, Molly and Lilly go to Brightview Senior Living in Billerica, Massachusetts and cheer up the elderly residents that have various levels of Alzheimer's who reside in Wellspring Village®, a neighborhood dedicated to innovative memory care.

These dogs make them feel so special and it brightens their day whenever these friendly pups come for a visit. These dogs are very unique. They know when you are not happy and will immediately shower you in love and attention until you are cheered up. It is their innate capabilities that make others happy. “We are so happy to see our dogs making a difference in our community” says Luciano, “It reminds us that we made the right decision by sharing our wonderful dogs with others in need.”

Brightview Senior Living understands the value of pet therapy for seniors and the elderly, and the importance of choice for residents and has an open pet policy where residents are permitted one well-behaved, vaccinated pet 25 lbs. or less. Residents are responsible for taking care of and cleaning up after their pets. For more information, contact your Brightview community of interest.


Categories
Health and Wellness, Resident Perspectives, Vibrant Living

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