Have you met JR? He’s blond, very handsome, and smiles a lot! Yes, he’s the golden retriever with all of these attributes, and The Peninsula’s pet therapy dog.
At 10:15 every Saturday morning, you can find him greeting about 40 residents in The Garden, the memory support residence at The Peninsula. Even residents from the assisted living community come over to visit him, unable to refuse his charm. After all, who can resist that wagging tail!
“Our residents’ faces light up when they see the dog,” says Michelle Hertz, resident programming coordinator at The Peninsula. “Residents look forward to the program. JR has become like family to them and brings back good memories. They can pat his beautiful, golden fur if they choose to. They love him!”
According to studies at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, even a short-term visit by a therapy dog can ease agitation in people with Alzheimer’s. This is particularly true in the early evening, sometimes called the “sundown” period, when people with Alzheimer’s may become agitated and confused.
Another study found that therapy dogs also promote social interaction among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. This study recorded various social behaviors within a group after a pet visit, like smiles, laughs, looks, leans, touches, and verbalizations. Results showed that the long-term presence of the dog boosted positive social behaviors among the group.
But we don’t need scientists to tell us that pet therapy make us humans, elderly or otherwise, feel good. Their nonverbal communication (wagging tails), loving acceptance, and ability to be in the present moment offer great examples for each of us to do the same!
Visit us at The Peninsula on a Saturday morning and watch JR in action.