To bring an animal into someone’s home and to see the smile on their face really does bring a joy to us. — Nick D’Aquila
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of starting the week on a positive note. So why not write a post about a Connecticut company that’s relaunching an animal therapy program for senior citizens? I mean, let’s be honest — it sure beats writing about politics. So here goes.
According to published reports, a Meriden, Connecticut-based senior care company recently welcomed a new staff member. Her name is Marlow. She’s a blonde and she’s got a great smile. She’s also got floppy ears, a wet nose, four paws and a tail.
Yes, Marlow is a dog. To be accurate, she is a 10-month-old Golden Retriever. And she’s got a very important job to do.
“To bring an animal into someone’s home and to see the smile on their face really does bring a joy to us,” Nick D’Aquila, whose family owns and operates Assisted Living Services, told the media.
A big job for a little pup
Apparently, Marlow is following in some pretty big paw prints. D’Aquila’s mother Sharron, introduced the company’s first therapy dog, Sunny, to clients several years ago. And they loved her.
“She would do it free of charge and bring the dog there…and he would pretty much bring a smile to the client’s face,” said Nick D’Aquila. “Continuing my mother’s legacy in visiting clients as well as having her join is a great feeling.”
Sadly, lymphoma claimed Sunny’s life five years ago.
The good news is that Marlow is well on her way to bringing the same joy to people as her predecessor. She has already in training to become a Registered Pet Partners Therapy Animal and should soon be available to visit clients upon request.
The importance of pet therapy for an aging population
As reflected in U.S. Census Bureau data, more than half a million people age 65 and older called Connecticut home in 2016 and accounted for approximately roughly 16 percent state’s population. That’s slightly more than reflected in the U.S. census data from 2000, when approximately 13 percent of Connecticut resident were in that age bracket.
As I recently blogged about, a senior citizen survey conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that owning a pet or interacting with an animal lessens stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Among the 2,000 participants dogs were the most common pet.
Additional research has shown that just petting animals provided mental health benefits to seniors.
“It’s increasing interactions with the seniors and making them more sociable,” D’Aquila noted. “I think the interactions with the therapy dog brings out the inner emotions that people are holding inside that they don’t really know how to express.”
Personally, I know exactly what I’d say. Good dog, Marlow. Very good dog!
Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.