2010-03-05 / Community

‘Sami’ Makes A Difference

One of the most serious issues affecting older people, particularly those in nursing homes, is loneliness. Researchers have done many studies on the effects that pets (dogs, cats – even ferrets, birds and potbellied pigs) have on the elderly and have found astonishing results. So, when Sami comes calling with his owner, Ronald Bennett, staff and residents alike know that a special day is in store for them simply because a friend is visiting.

Sami is a two and a half-year-old standard poodle enrolled in Therapy Dogs International. He had to be very healthy to train, qualify and interview for his job as a visiting companion to the residents at Peninsula Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation (PCECR).

“When Sami comes into the lobby at PCECR, he knows right where he is and goes about doing his job of visiting – and he loves his job,” says Bennett. “The residents respond to Sami and Sami responds to the residents.” Sami has a calm and gentle personality and loves people.

Pet therapy is also known to be emotionally soothing and can emotionally transport patients to a more homelike setting which is a very important part of long-term care.

The physical contact with the animals can also stimulate senses as well and so often the residents enjoy just petting Sami or sitting next to him. “Pet therapy definitely has had a positive response and we believe it is a very important and positive part of our residents’ day.

In fact, we have expanded our pet therapy to include ventilator patients and Alzheimers’ patients and it is quite incredible to see the positive reactions,” explains Janet Miele-Powers, Sr. V.P. and Administrator of PCECR.

So, Sami can rest assured that he will have his job as long as he wants. On his “off days,” Sami enjoys the local dog run as he and his owner are both Rockaway residents.

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