National Love Your Pet Day: How a Pup Promotes Happiness and Health to Residents!

The Story of Truffle & Samantha
Article written by Samantha Stanley, Physical Therapist Assistant for Therapy Center in order to celebrate National Love Your Pet Day on February 20th.truffle and patient

In March 2015, my family and I welcomed a new member to our home, a chocolate labradoodle pup that a year later would grow to be a 45 pound bundle of sweet joy, Truffle! I researched the personality of labradoodles and knew instantly by all the positive descriptions and stories that a “doodle-life” was for me. Multiple sites online described labradoodles as intelligent, kind, loving, level-headed and social. I had to get one of my own! I purchased Truffle from a reputable breeder in Oklahoma who has been in business for 15 years. Their site had great pictures and inspiring stories about how many of their labradoodles have brought so much happiness to families and how some doodles have become therapy dogs.

During the holiday season our therapy team at The Columns Community Care Center wanted to do something a little different and special for our residents. We all decided that it would be a fun, new experience to incorporate a pup into our therapy and introduce Truffle to all the residents. Little did we know that Truffle would bring smiles, laughter, excitement, and conversation to everyone at the Columns. Truffle fit in so well with all the residents and the therapy team. Truffle’s personality is very calm and obedient so incorporating therapy was not difficult at all for speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Truffle let residents pet her, walk with her on a leash and even played fetch with residents. It truly made the residents overjoyed! Multiple residents told stories about their dogs at home or even stories about the pups they had when they were children. Truffle would sit right by a resident and lean in as if she were listening too.

Truffle not only was incorporated into therapy treatments within our gym but she visited residents in their rooms as well. Residents would call Truffle’s name and she would jump up and lay right next to a resident so the resident could pet and cuddle her. The residents described Truffle as: chill, calm, laid back, loving, soft, cuddly and smart. Overall the therapy team could not have asked for a better, more creative way to add something extra special to our daily treatment. Truffle was the “talk of the Columns”.
Since the holiday season Truffle has visited a few more times and every time we get the same positive responses from residents and staff; “we love her,” “she brings so much happiness and excitement to the facility!”

Because of all the positive feedback we received from residents and staff I have enrolled Truffle in 18 weeks of classes where she will learn: basic commands, problem solving skills and truffle and patient 3behavior training. Once she completes beginner, intermediate and advanced training courses, Truffle and I together will take the Canine Good Citizen Test. The Canine Good citizen test consists of nine parameters including accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, appearance and grooming, walking on a loose leash, walking through a crowd, sit and down on command/staying in place, coming when called, reaction to another dog and reactions to distractions. Once she passes the CGC then I will get trained through the Delta Society Pet Partners to become Truffle’s “handler”. A handler is fully responsible for the care of the dog, reading the body language of the animal, demonstrating positive interactions with the animal and redirecting the animal with a confident manner and at all times be an advocate for the safety and well-being of their animal. I hope that this is just the beginning for Truffle and I, as a trained human-pet therapy team, making memories, inspiring others and promoting health and happiness to all.

For more stories about how our therapists incorporate different activities into therapy, click on the blog tab on our home page.

Authored by Brittany Lemoine, Marketing Liaison.

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