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Canine visitors are blessing

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Geri Torre and Megan Rose visit Barton Skilled Nursing Center every Friday.

For a while, Torre wouldn’t let Megan get real close to the residents becasuse she didn’t know how they would react. Megan, you see, is a Shih Tzu.

“One little lady, she just breaks my heart, she just sits there. She’s getting to where she will reach out, but she won’t touch her,” Torre said.

Other people really perk up when Maggie comes in.

“It’s just a touch, a feel, because Maggie just gives love,” Torre said. “It makes me feel good. I get a lot of joy out of it.”

Torre said she got the idea from news reports about the health benefits pets give their owners.

“You see it on TV about how for the older people, pets are such a God-send and I said, ‘Why can’t I do that?'” Torre said. “Because Megan is such a love, she just kisses. She just loves people.”

So Torre called Barton Skilled to ask if she could bring Megan to the center once a week and the people there love her visits.

“I love it. I had a couple of dogs myself. Look at how cute she is,” said Martha Wilson.

“She’s darling. I just love her, she is so sweet,” said Louise Devincenzi.

The nursing center’s activities director Barbara Adams said it is a welcome change for the residents and she encourages anyone with friendly dogs to visit.

“A lot of families bring their dogs when they come in. We have such a giving community, but I don’t think they realize how much they give when they visit,” Adams said. “The dog loves it and so do the residents, especially little ones like Megan. Anybody who wants to come down, all they need is proof their dog has had its shots.”

Resident Myles McFadden likes when the dogs, especially Megan, visit.

“She’s a nice dog. She’s so friendly. It’s a change,” he said.

Torre said they usually come in during the exercises Friday morning and she lets Megan go. All eyes are on her. She runs from resident to resident with her tongue rolling out and a big smile on her face. When you peak under all that fur, big brown eyes stare back at you.

“She gets real excited when she comes out here,” Torre said.

Even the nurses look like they wish they could be petting her.

The residents love to snuggle with her. That is, the ones who aren’t cat people.

“I think she’s a very nice little puppy. I like dogs. I don’t care for cats,” said Flora Wennhold.

Resident Ruby Gross cuddles with Megan twice during her last Friday visit.

“This is my little baby. Oh, you are a little sweetheart,” she tells Megan.

“I’ve had little dogs. I had little poodles,” Gross said. “You could tell she liked me.”