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The Benefits of Pet Therapy for Residents at Artman and The Hearth

June 25, 2019

With wagging tails and happy dispositions, pet therapy dogs, Paisley and Daisy, bring light to every room. Spreading joy as they prance through the halls in two of Liberty Lutheran’s senior living and memory care communities, these beloved furry companions make every day brighter for residents in all levels of care at Artman and The Hearth.

Meet Pet Therapy Dog, Paisley, a Small Border Terrier with a Very Big Heart

Paisley, a 20 pound Border Terrier who prefers to play with people over dog toys, and her owner Cindi Smith, who is a registered nurse and pet therapy volunteer, enjoy going on their routine pet therapy visits together at Artman.

Cindi says that Paisley truly enjoys providing comfort and companionship to the residents who live there.

She brings so much light to the community and all of the residents here at Artman, even the staff. Everyone loves her here.

And after spending time with Paisley, residents’ big smiles and cheery giggles perfectly demonstrate the benefits of pet therapy. “The residents see Paisley and after just a few minutes, their faces completely light up. It’s really cool to watch.”

For residents requiring higher levels of care, Paisley’s presence alone brings them a simple sense of joy. “She’ll sometimes lay in their bed and cuddle with them, or she’ll just sit by them and give them kisses. She makes herself completely available to them and that makes them so happy.”

All-Star Pup: Meet Golden Retriever, Daisy, at The Hearth

A dog with slightly more fur and just as big a heart, English Cream Golden Retriever, Daisy, and her owner, Kim Campbell, bring a similar kind of happiness to residents at The Hearth.

Daisy’s owner and volunteer at The Hearth, Kim, admits that she originally bought the adorable Golden Retriever for herself. “I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2013. I got Daisy shortly after as a way for me to stay active and get out on days I really didn’t feel like it, or days I just didn’t feel well,” Kim explains.

Kim started Daisy in obedience classes as soon as she could. At just 10 weeks old, Daisy passed the beginner, intermediate, and advanced puppy training classes with ease.

After Daisy passed her obedience classes with flying colors, she was ready to take her All Star Puppy test. At just 5 months old, Daisy passed both her All Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen test at the very same time, making her one of the youngest dogs her trainer ever knew to receive both awards at such a young age.

Later moving from Kentucky to Philadelphia for her husband’s job, Kim enrolled Daisy in a six-week long pet therapy course and before they knew it, Daisy was certified to provide pet therapy and bring happiness to those who needed it.

A Perfect Match: Daisy and Kim Find The Hearth for Pet Therapy

After Daisy received her pet therapy certification from Therapy Dogs International, Kim began experiencing health complications due to her rheumatoid arthritis. “I was really sick for a while. I kept receiving notices from Therapy Dogs International about organizations who needed pet therapy dogs and volunteers, but I just wasn’t well enough to do that with Daisy.”

As time passed, Kim’s health progressed and she finally began to feel better. She received another email from Therapy Dogs International. This time, they needed a pet therapy dog and volunteer for The Hearth at Drexel, which Kim says is practically located in her backyard. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to do this with Daisy. She has all the training. I’m ready. She’s ready. Let’s give this a try. It was the epitome of perfect timing,” Kim says.

Daisy and Kim began pet therapy visits with residents at The Hearth in June of 2018, and it has been a life-changing experience for everyone involved. Spending time with residents in and memory care for the past year, Daisy does tricks, gives kisses and cuddles, and most importantly spreads smiles and laughter among so many residents throughout The Hearth.

Shining a light through difficult times…

As soon as you walk in the room with Daisy the residents get so excited. She brings them so much joy. If someone isn’t feeling well or is missing their family, Daisy takes their mind off of whatever they’re going through and brings them happiness in that moment.

Kim says Daisy helps bring residents happiness when they’re going through particularly difficult times. “She takes their mind to a different place where they’re only focusing on Daisy, and not about anything else…Like when you watch a good movie!” Kim laughs.

Continuing to spread happiness throughout the community, It is volunteers like Kim and Cindi, and their beloved pet therapy dogs, that bring comfort, companionship, and joy to residents at The Hearth and Artman. Making a positive impact on the people throughout the Liberty Lutheran community, pet therapy brightens the lives of so many residents each and every day.