No one can say with confidence if dogs go to heaven. Yet, the residents of this nursing home feel convinced that paradise sent a canine their way!
Despite a lack of formal coaching as a therapy dog, Nala prompts joy for these elderly tenants. She rides the care center’s elevator and leaps onto wheelchairs and beds to cuddle with the shut-ins. “She’s our guardian,” says 90-year-old Ruth New tenderly. “I love her”
Making Her Rounds
Five-year-old Nala first arrived at this nursing home with her owner’s medications assistant Doug Dawson. Mr. Dawson adopted her from the care center he’d worked at once.
Nala has an incredible skill of pick the residents needing a little extra attention. “She’ll pick out the shut-in with memory loss,” says her owner. “Nala has a skill of picking those with the most need.”
Ironically, Nala burned out doing therapy work at another care center where Dawson worked in the past. They told him to take her along with him as he left.
Timing is Everything
He blames Nala’s past failure on youth and too much time spent in a kennel, which left her “whiny and neurotic. Now five years old and kennel-free, Nala has grown up.
Nala also seems to sense when residents are at life’s end. A few people mentioned Izez Guggisberg’s recent passing and the way Nala remained at her bedside.
“She had died earlier in the day, but Nala knew and went and sat with her,” said Sandy Glomski, a Lyngblomsten staffer member. “It was remarkable, and we were all crying.”
Dawson says he’s continually amazed by both Nala’s compassion and her ability to navigate the nursing home’s floors on her own.
Therapy dogs are helpful across a wide range of complex human situations. The empathetic canines can help comfort veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Alzheimer’s patients, and autistic children.
Intuitively, people feel better with a fluffy friend. Indeed, studies have shown that therapy dogs decrease agitation in patients with dementia and improve health outcomes for patients hospitalized with heart failure.
Credit: USA via YouTube