Barking up the right tree

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor

Nursing homes come to the rescue of elderly loved ones every day. But a story out of Springfield, IL, shows they can also come to the aid of our furry friends.

Cockapoo Annie was found abandoned in a dog park, along with a note and a plate of lasagna. Luckily for her, a Good Samaritan by the name of Stormy Edwards (which I may steal as my byline in my next life) saw Annie and took her to the local county animal control, where a volunteer saw her and thought she might be a good fit for Regency Nursing Care. The facility was looking for a live-in dog for pet therapy

Much like another famous red-haired orphan, Annie's been a hit and her story has a happy ending. You can see the full story, along with pictures and video, here.

Regency's owners and administrators should be commended for recognizing the value of pets for residents, much as nursing homes under the Eden Alternative also promote pets as a way to create a home-like environment. It's not a secret that pets don't only reduce loneliness but also can lower blood pressure and increase socialization.

Annie's story also is a reminder of the value of connections. In this case, an animal control volunteer had talked to the Regency owner about getting a pet-therapy dog. That conversation may seem like luck or fate, but it's actually a sign of a healthy community, one in which silos get broken down.

Volunteering at one's animal control site, Girl Scout troop or church won't necessarily yield a referral to your nursing home or ability to solve a senior citizen's problem. But don't discount how being involved locally — and listening to what people's needs are — may create a happy outcome.

And if you're really lucky, it will involve a wagging tail.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.