When Rex, the black lab, and his owner walk into The Bridges Assisted Living Community, senior residents are eager to greet them. Rex is a pet therapy dog operating under PAWS for Friendship. A non-profit organization, Paws for Friendship is comprised of volunteers sharing the unconditional love of their personal pets with others. Anyone who has stroked a dog’s fur knows the soothing and comforting feeling a dog provides.
Mary is a resident who will stop what she’s doing to spend time with Rex. She lights up when Rex sits on the floor next to her chair while she gently pets his slick black coat. After Mary, Rex will make his way to the other residents sitting in the lobby who want their turn with him. The next stop for Rex is visiting with residents in the Memory Unit. While they may not be able to remember his name or that he has ever visited them in the past, these residents are delighted to see his wagging tail. They, too, want a turn petting Rex and patting him on the head.
Studies show that even short periods of time interacting with a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and increase levels of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical, in the brain.
Rex is only one of many dogs who visit residents at The Bridges. These special pets make people feel happier and healthier!