The Emotional Support of A Therapy Dog

Hudson is a celebrity. His visits are anticipated and prepared for. Many count the days until his next arrival. This is the special life of a therapy dog who happens to visit assisted living facilities.

Years ago, Linda used to groom some of the clients’ dogs at Primrose in Mansfield, an assisted living home where the residents could have their own dogs living with them. Linda remembered going there with her dog, Layla, and the residents would be excited to see her and want to love on Layla. 

Realizing Hudson had the ideal personality for a therapy dog, she wanted him to start visiting assisting living homes on a regular basis. She contacted Heather with Dog Gone Capable to get the process of becoming a therapy dog started. 

“COVID slowed things down,” says Linda, “but this past fall, I concentrated on getting him certified, and he did it within two months.” Hudson passed his Canine Good Citizenship and was ready to start his initial steps as a therapy dog. 

Linda had a friend going to Primrose with her therapy dog, and since Linda had fond memories of the place, she decided to start with them. She reached out to Angela Gardner, the Life Enrichment Coordinator, who remembered Linda when she used to groom at the facility.

Once Hudson was certified through Dog Gone Capable, she contacted Love on A Leash. They provided a mentor to go with Linda and Hudson to his first ten visits at Primrose. These were supervised visits to watch Hudson in action. And Hudson didn’t disappoint. 

In April, Hudson earned his vest and is now a full-fledged therapy dog. He goes to Primrose every Wednesday for about 90 minutes. They meet in the Fireside Room where residents can come to visit him. Afterwards, there are a few residents whose rooms he goes to in order to have private visits.

“He’s a natural,” says Linda. “He totally eats up the attention and gives it right back.”

Angela Gardner agrees. “Hudson is so well behaved,” she says. “He’s gorgeous too! We have one resident, Reet, who doesn’t go to the dining room for lunch on the day Hudson’s here and waits to get private time in her room with Hudson at the end of his visit. She wants extended time with him.”

As the Life Enrichment Coordinator, Angela’s job is to provide activities and events for the residents. “Hudson falls into the category of mental stimulation for the clients,” she says. “His presence helps to decrease anxiety through petting and loving on him. He helps reduce loneliness. He helps with memory issues. When he’s here, residents often remember their pets from the past and share those memories. Their blood pressure is often lowered. He boosts their mood.”

Paisley is another dog that often comes to Primrose and is a friend of Hudson’s. The two dogs bring a great deal of joy to the residents there. Angela says they are an important part of the emotional support program offered at Primrose.

Hudson is always excited the minute Linda shows him the vest at home as they’re getting ready to head to the facility. He loves going and never minds how much the residents love on him.  “Sometimes they will love on him so completely, and cry,” she says.

When Linda has puppies, she will sometimes bring one of them to visit as she did this past week. Breezy is 8 weeks old and was a huge hit. “She too would make an amazing therapy dog,” says Linda.

Angela admits she wants to have a Kissing Booth with Hudson and take pictures to post on Facebook. ‘I think it would be so much fun and the residents would love it!” There’s no word yet on whether Hudson will give autographs.

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