Dog days give residents cheers
MUNCY – Therapy dogs Bo and Dori make weekly visits to the Muncy Valley Skilled Nursing Unit. Their owner, Tammy Button from Hughesville said that as soon as they pull into the parking lot, the two yellow labs get so excited they can’t wait to get out of the car. Like two grand dukes, they proudly wear their scarves that say “I am a therapy dog.”
The patients just love it when the dogs come said volunteer Brenda Harner. “It’s been incredibly rewarding for everyone,” said Button.
Each room gets a visit when they arrive, and the dogs stay about an hour. “The residents always know when it is dog night. The dogs have been wonderful for them,” said Harner delighted.
“I want one,” said resident, Julia Meyer. “I just love them.”
Harold Hess couldn’t wait for Kiesha, a two year old mixed pug that comes from Hughesville with her owner, Cindy Maines. Hess was ready in the hallway waiting for her to arrive. “We come and visit every other week,” Maines said. Maines who is suffering from a back injury puts Kiesha on a hospital cart and glides her through the hallways into the patients’ rooms. “That way the residents can pet her and I don’t have to keep lifting her up and down.”
All of the dogs have training to be a therapy dog, and that requires a loving temperament and be very tolerant of other animals. Unlike service dogs who wear vests, therapy dogs wear scarves to allow more room for petting them. They go to school for obedience training. Kiesha received her training in Sullivan County according to her owner. After they graduate, therapy dogs will have various assignments depending on the need, from visiting schools and children, to hospitals and nursing homes.
Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers. The organization was found in 1976 in New Jersey.