During a year where in-person visits are often impossible and replaced with drive-by visits and video calls, nursing homes are bringing in dogs to ease isolation. Four-legged friends have brought comfort and friendship to many nursing home residents; one home, in particular, is bringing in dogs to provide a form of therapy to residents. Hebrew Home– in Bronx, NY– “has had a pet therapy program for 20 years; tiny Zeus and gentle giant Marley the Great Dane are the current snugglers in residence.”
Affection from dogs eases isolation to make up for “more of the affectionate physical contact that has become so scarce and precious in the coronavirus era.” The dogs belong to staff members who bring the pups along with them when they can. The dogs have to meet a standard: “a combination of the right owner, right dog and right temperament,” as explained by the founder of the pet therapy program. The home also has animatronic cats who purr and meow to comfort residents. The assistant director of therapeutic activities explains that petting and visiting with dogs “can break down barriers and open communication and emotional expression.”
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