Connecting with pet visits

An unusual thing happened recently at the nursing home.  I guess we have all heard stories about residents being unresponsive until a visit from a pet therapy dog perks them up and grabs their attention. Well, my dog Lotto, and I have never seen this in any of our visits, and I had never talked to anyone that it happened to; I had only heard the stories.

The other night we were visiting rooms one by one when a woman we have seen on most visits, pushing her mother in a wheelchair, stopped us.  She had seen us go by and searched around the nursing home until she found us.  We stopped for a bit to spend time with her as she and her mother pet Lotto, and they both seemed to enjoy visiting with him. We continued on our rounds and got ready to leave, and the woman we met with earlier was leaving at the same time.  I asked how her Mom was doing and she said not well as she had cancer and was probably going to need hospice.  She said she had hunted us down because her mother had been quiet and almost non-responsive until she saw Lotto. Her mother perked up and said “There goes Lotto” as soon as we walked by. I guess we really never know how our visits help other, but that sure got my attention.  Lotto got an extra treat when we got home.  I don’t know her name, but when I see her again I will ask.

She was telling me all of this as we walked out into the cold to go home. I did tell her that I volunteered for hospice and we strive to do a good job for our folks. Thank you for this opportunity.

By Ben Anderson - Pet therapy volunteer