Today’s column is brought to you by Cadbury, because sometimes chocolate is all the inspiration you need.

In a sweeter take on my weekly missives, I’m here to send some love to the iconic candy brand’s 2022 “bunny,” and by that, I mean a massive, white-haired English doodle.

Five-year-old Annie Rose makes a very shaggy bunny, but the pup’s backstory is almost as cute as a full-size doodle wearing a pair of pink velveteen ears and carrying a basket stuffed with cream-filled eggs in her mouth.

Nursing home celebrity and Cadbury bunny Annie Rose

She was chosen from a slate of wanna-be bunnies in a Top 10 packed with some cute and also odd pets, including hedgehogs and sugar gliders (whatever those are). But Annie Rose worked her way to the top of the field — and she’s earned a spot in the hearts of long-term care residents across the Cincinnati area, too.

Turns out when she’s not shooting ad campaigns, Annie Rose is a therapy dog who works with seniors at nursing homes and retirement communities. Besides being trained in all the calming, comforting, well-behaved ways certified therapy dogs are, Annie Rose also has some pretty extensive experience wearing costumes.

During COVID, when lockdowns kept her out of the halls and away from the residents she loves visiting, Annie Rose dressed up and paraded around windows to keep spreading joy. 

At Thanksgiving, she wore a turkey on her head and nosed her way up to her friends’ windows. In better weather, she put on a bandana and drove around in a motorized red Jeep. Yes, a dog that drives. Could activities directors hire better entertainment? 

Last week, one of the communities Annie Rose visited in those darker days hosted her for a festive celebration of her new Cadbury gig. At Trilogy’s Triple Creek Retirement Community, which includes post-acute residents, there were plenty of tail wags, head scratches, bunny ears, and chocolate to go around.

The Easter commercial starring a bewildered-looking Annie Rose is out now. She is even more a nursing home celebrity than she was during the pandemic. And in addition to the dog’s 15 seconds of fame, Annie Rose’s owner gets a $5,000 cash prize, according to Hershey’s, which holds the license to produce Cadbury’s in the U.S. 

But the best part of this experience might be extending the pair’s  reach to a broad new audience. Owner Lori Rahn told one local news station her beloved pet had been transformed from a nursing home therapy dog into a “therapy dog to the world.”

Through the Cadbury bunny campaign, Hershey donated $20,000 it collected from voters to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Wouldn’t it be sweet if the company also made a donation in favor of a therapy dog organization or Annie Rose’s favorite cause: older people in need of a little companionship?

Kimberly Marselas is senior editor of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.