Riverview Healthcare Campus resident Lois McManus has a new friend. He has got short curly blond hair, and deep brown eyes. He also likes to bark.
Harley, a 10-year-old cocker spaniel, and Angel, a three-year-old beagle-terrier mix, are the new additions at Riverview Healthcare Campus, Oak Harbor.
“Harley, I love him. I think he’s a godsend to this nursing home,” McManus said. “He’s very friendly.”
Harley interacts with residents such as McManus in the Lighthouse, Riveriew’s Alzheimer’s unit, while Angel lives in Cottage Cove, Riverview’s hospice unit. Both dogs were adopted from the Ottawa County Humane Society.
“Our Superintendent (Deb) Kriner thought it would be really helpful for the residents,” said Kristin Howard, marketing director for Riverview Healthcare Campus, as to why the facility adopted the dogs.
“It’s more homelike,” said Howard. “Many people have pets in their homes. It’s just engaging for the residents. They’re actively engaged in petting and caring for the dogs.”
McManus, who has a Chinese pug, agrees the dogs bring a sense of home and companionship to the facility.
“I think they’re a companion for people in nursing homes,” McManus said. “Everybody likes Harley. He just begs — that’s his trick — and he’ll lay by your feet.”
Many of the residents like the dogs and enjoy the company that each one provides, said Howard.
“It has a lot to do with the physical contact, the petting, the tail wagging,” Howard said. “Just seeing the dogs there when they wake up greeting them, really lifts their spirits.”
“These dogs have definitely become part of the family,” Howard said. “We wanted to get them first to get a little trial [run] and make sure they reacted well to the environment.”
The facility is large enough that residents can still have their own space, Howard said.
Each dog has its own bed and is kept indoors, and the nursing home has enclosed courtyards on the grounds to give the dogs plenty of room to run outside.
Both dogs have been at the nursing home for two weeks, and soon the dogs will be officially adopted and become permanent residents.